10 tips to elevate finance leaders in 2024
Learn how finance leaders can turn their challenges into triumphs, embrace change, and lead with confidence in the new year.
How will you remember 2023 from a financial and an economic perspective? As the year inflation hit global highs? War and political unrest in various corners of the world? Maybe more positively as the year we finally shed the cloak of the pandemic — or the year of Barbenheimer?
However you remember 2023, it’s a safe bet 2024 will be another tumultuous 12 months for finance leaders. There will be plenty of change due to upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections worldwide — including the UK, US, India, Iran, the EU, Germany, and Russia, just to name a few. As economies recover, there will still be inflation challenges, uncertainty over central bank policies, and trade wars to contend with.
But there are also opportunities on the horizon, especially for finance leaders undoubtedly factoring these considerations into their planning process alongside localized challenges and opportunities for 2024 budgets. Acknowledging these global influences is different from incorporating them effectively as potential inputs to your planning process. To navigate the potential disruptions and turn them into opportunities, it's essential to optimize your planning process.
Throughout 2023, Anaplan hosted a series of special CONNECT events across the planet, gathering our industry-leading customers and partners to share strategies for business success amid market volatility. Keep reading to hear the top 10 recommendations — gathered from these Connect sessions and other key sources — to enable faster, more informed decision-making and empower finance leaders like you in 2024 and beyond.
1. Address your strategy-execution gap
Coordinating business strategy (company objectives) with execution (tactics to bring the strategy to life) will be critical. Most organizations struggle with a disconnect between strategic plans and operational execution — known as a strategy-execution gap (SEG) — which can stifle growth opportunities.
Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) can bridge this gap by connecting people, processes, and platforms. Integrated FP&A leverages the vast amounts of data within your organization and the market to assess and support the impact of multiple potential futures, enabling agile decision-making across multiple scenarios at a faster pace.
2. Prioritize business transparency
Complete data transparency across your business is crucial to avoid the SEG. Operations need access to the warehouse, marketing requires insights into sales activities, and finance leaders need comprehensive visibility.
Aligning everyone with the same data enhances forecasting accuracy and facilitates quicker, better decision-making, maximizing opportunity creation and competitive advantage.
3. Embrace the new responsibilities of finance leadership
Being a finance leader isn’t just about the numbers anymore. There are three emerging roles finance leaders are now expected to play — and these will grow in importance throughout 2024:
- Strategic advisor: With an overview across the business, CFOs are indispensable trusted advisors to everyone from HR to marketing to the CEO.
- Captain of capital: Access to capital will be more important than ever in 2024, and nurturing relationships with creditors and investors is crucial to this.
- Chief planning officer: You need to break free from traditional planning and utilize digital planning solutions to create multiple scenarios and simulate “what-if” sensitivity analyses to determine the best courses of action that fuel growth and mitigate risk.
4. Foster a data-driven culture
Competitive advantage will come to the forefront in 2024 as organizations fight over consumer mind and wallet share. To stay ahead and prepare for unexpected change, organizations need to synthesize data to understand business drivers that can highlight opportunities before their competitors.
Your planning platform should give you access to volumes of data in one place and in real-time, so you have the insights to forecast and spot opportunities faster and guide your financial planning and execute more strategically.
5. Break down silos as a connected finance leader
CFOs cannot work in isolation. In 2024, it will be crucial to make connections with your peers across the organization to eradicate silos. Hear what this top analyst firm has to say about it.
Cross-functional planning fosters seamless business interactions and buy-in using unified tools, data, and information for more integrated, data-driven, and forward-thinking collaboration and decision-making.
6. Embrace technology for better outcomes
Currently, even the best artificial intelligence (AI) can’t (yet) predict with certainty events in 2024. However, the most powerful planning tools allow you to improve the odds of success when disruption does occur.
One area that often gets overlooked is the speed at which planning tools allow finance leaders to conduct scenario planning. You need a planning tool that isn’t only flexible, but that empowers you to operate at the pace of your organization so you can remain agile, regardless of external changes.
7. Build a shared vision with your CIO
As both the CFO and CIO roles evolve, forging a strategic alliance ensures the right technology supports the alignment of strategic planning and financial management to drive organizational growth.
A shared vision focused on pulling in relevant data and eliminating disparate planning sources ensures improved decision-making, transparency, and mutual career benefits.
8. Nurture the right talent and skills
Everything you need to achieve in 2024 will depend on having the right skillset in your team. As the role of finance evolves, there will be a greater need for new skill sets such as data literacy and an increased appetite to work on high-impact work versus repetitive, manual tasks.
Focus on two main areas: upskilling and reskilling your existing team by enabling them to use the latest technology to identify areas of opportunity. Also, foster a culture of innovation and collaboration to attract and retain staff so your employees feel more valued.
9. Lead with empathy
When driving transformation projects, remember you are not the only one going through changes in your role. Communicate the value of the planning, budgeting, and forecasting (PB&F) process, goals, and strategic direction effectively to secure buy-in.
People support what they help to create, so get everyone involved in your area of transformation. Finance spans the business, so getting stakeholders engaged across different departments will yield greater success.
10. Remember: transformation is ongoing
Transformation is a journey, not a destination. Finance is morphing from traditional, reactive, legacy systems to modern financial principles based on data, proactivity, and collaboration across your organization.
That’s not an easy or quick vision to achieve, but it is necessary for those organizations seeking to stay ahead of their competition and thrive in light of the turbulent and dynamic business environment we’re living through. By orchestrating a successful transformation using the right tools in your role as CFO, you play a central role in driving growth, building resilience, and maximizing opportunities in 2024 and beyond.