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2020 Global Finance & Accounting (F&A) Vertical Demand Survey

2020 Global Finance & Accounting Research Unpacks the Latest Investment Priorities and Digital Transformation Trends

The global finance and accounting (F&A) sector has enjoyed consecutive years of robust growth.

Against this backdrop, market competition increased as organizations competed for business and the best talent.

The need to gain a competitive advantage has spurred innovation and digital disruption within the sector, with organizations looking to technology and specialized skills and capabilities to create agile, more efficient operations.

Knowledge Executive has released the 2020 Global Finance and Accounting Vertical Industry Demand Survey which reveals that F&A firms are particularly focused on Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to perform repetitive tasks and automate processes. Nearly 80% of firms surveyed plan to deploy a Robotic Capital Plan within the next 12 months.

Additional investments will target innovative digital processes through machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics capabilities, as well as cloud enablement and the data security and protection required for this consumption model.

A hybrid approach

However, the need to access these capabilities in a cost-effective, secure and efficient manner has prompted organizations to consider a hybrid approach. In this model they retain certain functions in-house and invest in building out those competencies while outsourcing other functions to third-party service providers to access innovation, value creation or specialized technology.

In addition, this model allows organizations to remain loyal to staff and re-skill them to fulfil more analytical roles, rather than making them redundant.

The flexibility and agility this blended model offers also positions firms favourably to respond to emerging or shifting trends in the F&A sector.

For instance, while the industry was already deep into its digital transformation journey, the Covid-19 global pandemic accelerated the digital adoption curve. Organizations that already had robust cloud deployment capabilities in place were able to easily pivot to a work from home model to ensure business continuity through lockdowns.

However, cloud technology adoption has also created new challenges for CFOs as it has forced organizations to focus intensely on security to prevent breaches that can compromise private customer or sensitive business information.

Shifting priorities, shifting investments

In response to these myriad challenges, F&A firms want to partner with trusted expert services providers that offer cutting-edge technological solutions to these common pain points. And organizations increasingly demand a flexible partnership with their F&A service provider to meet shifting requirements.

The challenge facing CFOs in this regard is successfully navigating the global business landscape to find the best countries for offshore investment and outsourcing potential. The bottom line is that global businesses are constantly looking for the best offshore location – or multiple locations -where they can outsource their services.

According to the 2020 Global Finance and Accounting Vertical Industry Demand Survey, when organizations deliberate over the best offshore locations in which to invest, they consider a country’s business and economic climate as key factors. These include a location’s enabling investment climate, cost, enabling infrastructure, market potential and risk profile.

Multi-sourcing to multiple locations

However, the key differentiator among these countries is each region’s specific area of expertise or specialization. As such, a potential future trend that emerged from the research is the possibility that firms will begin outsourcing to multiple locations based on each region’s specialized functions or skills.

The fall-out from Covid-19 could have serious repercussions for the global F&A outsourcing sector, though, as regions grapple with the infection curve and economic challenges with varying degrees of success. Time will tell which regions emerge in a more stable economic position.

What is certain is that outsourcing will remain a key strategic focus among firms when global economic ramps up again. Whether organizations chase growth and innovation to gain a competitive edge, or favour cost-containment and efficiency in the face of reduced staff numbers to ensure sustainability, the F&A outsourcing sector is poised to affirm its place in the business value chain.

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