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The Future of Finance is Bright

There are long-term benefits to adjusting your organization’s business model and up-skilling your workforce.

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There is power in “what-if” scenario planning. Day three of FEI’s Financial Leadership Summit reminded me just how often executives are being asked to make strategy- and organization-altering decisions. If the disruption 2020 introduced is any sign of what’s coming, financial leaders can no longer rely on an annual budgeting process. It seems it is not sufficient to keep up with an ever-changing marketplace and guide your organization to prosperity. Instead, you can mitigate risk by gathering both finance and non-finance data, leveraging software that can see patterns humans may miss, and facilitating monthly meetings with diverse stakeholders from every level of your organization. Being nimble is forecasting potential outcomes of multiple scenarios.

Our friends at EY, Ram Ramanan, Margaret Merritt, and Samir Jaipati, led a wonderful session about how CFOs can prepare for the new future of work. I left the session believing the future of finance is bright. They suggested finance leaders not solely focus on implementing technology across your organization. There are long-term benefits to also devoting appropriate resources to adjusting your organization’s business model and up-skilling your workforce. To help with scenario planning, they also discussed the benefits of collecting non-finance data to make more informed decisions. I bet you’d find value in their four-step process for staying current with the marketplace.

Karl Schamotta, from Cambridge Global Payments, shared incredible research about the effects of concentrating wealth and power. If you missed his session live, be sure to watch it on demand before December 31st. He shared copious amounts of data that helped attendees see current events through new lenses. Credentialing may make it harder to enter the workforce and climb a corporate ladder. People educated at the high school degree level make less money than they did in 1979. The tech sector’s revenue and influence on the global market is bigger than entire markets of other countries. The increase in American political turmoil is linked to more market volatility. In “what-if” planning, finance executives may be learning that the creative destruction of the old is making way for a better future that uplifts everyone.

My favorite session was the CFO Roundtable featuring David Johnson, Don McCree, and Adam Remis. Moderator Chris Kearney did a marvelous job teasing out the panelists’ personal stories and the details of their most difficult challenges. Each shared lessons learned and how they’re better leaders as a result. Most poignant for me was Johnson saying, “technical expertise is table steaks.” A leader’s ability to over-communicate to stakeholders and influence them to take calculated risks, try new approaches, and iterate as new information presents itself are signs of 21st century leadership. The obstacles in your path will likely be your most valuable learning experience. Words often don’t teach as well as emotion-filled experiences do.

Thank you to Tom Peff and Kerman Lau, from Workday, for their bonus session on automating scenario planning. Frank Cesario, the 2020 Conference Chair, and Deborah Southwell facilitated a networking group full of humorous attendee stories. The day came to a close with comedian and actor Ryan Budds hosting virtual trivia. It was a blast! Although my knowledge of popular culture leaves something to be desired, Ryan is so engaging and I loved seeing the personal side of my colleagues.
For the last three years, Michael S. Seaver has served as emcee of the Financial Leadership Summit. For more on his work as speaker, leadership consultant, and executive coach, visit