Throughout my finance career and as an entrepreneur, I have always asked myself this question. It evokes my passion for business, strategy, personal growth, and performance. It is this question that helps my team improve as individuals, and in turn, our business and the organizations we serve. Nothing is more rewarding than looking back over time, knowing the change you have brought to bear within yourself, and the positive impact you’ve had within your organization.
Early in my finance career, I became frustrated with manual, inefficient, and non-value adding processes. The teams I was part of would spend 85% of their time on data consolidation and only 15% on analysis. It was incredibly reactive, and removed both speed, and agility from the business’ ability to respond to internal and external paradigm shifts.
I spent years trying to improve financial processes and developing complex spreadsheets to better automate the reporting, planning and forecasting process. With limited capacity, resources, and the constraints and limitation of our tools (i.e. Microsoft Excel), it made for an incredibly fragile, frustrating, and error-prone approach to financial planning and strategy.
Data Consolidation and the re-engineering of spreadsheets is not why I pursued my Management Accounting Designation (CPA). I pursued and obtained my designation:
- To be a strategic partner to the business
- To support executive and operational teams with accurate and timely information (which helps validate and facilitate better decision-making).
- To drive the execution of strategy through KPIs/Metrics and financial analysis
- To know that deep down, I made a real impact to the success of the business.
Rise of the Modern Finance Professional
The role of the finance professional is evolving, and there is a movement going on in the world being echoed from the financial institutes and accounting bodies globally. More so than ever before, finance professionals are rising up and becoming the stewards of their organizations. The Modern Financial Professional is at the core of this evolution, and it starts with the passion for driving performance strategy and (more importantly) educating and effectively communicating financial performance to their stakeholders.
Information is power only if it is harnessed in ways that drive performance, strategy, and insight throughout the organization. Big data is just big noise unless it is tied to your strategy, and in turn, to KPIs. Having the right tools is imperative, but having the knowledge, skills and vision to apply them in a way that transforms organizations is where modern finance professionals can lead the way.
Challenging existing processes, changing cultural norms, and being open-minded is how we continue to evolve as individuals. It is a never-ending journey in the pursuit for perfection. Analysis of business, strategy, and ultimately action is what drives real change. It starts with you.
It’s a New World…
…Or rather a modern world, and it is our mission as Modern Finance Professionals to change the story. It’s no longer about just reporting numbers and investigating and explaining what happened in the past. Sure, take your lessons learnt and challenge previously built plans against actual events, but to switch the focus to the future, you need to ask yourself:
- How can I facilitate and enable cohesion on future action plans across the business?
- How can I evaluate “what if” scenarios collaboratively in real-time?
- How can we take decisive action as a team knowing that we have optimized decisions and exhausted the different courses of action to product the best result?
- How can I unite the business and create a platform for accountability and action to drive performance at all levels of the organization?
- Is there a better way forward?
The answers lie in continually challenging the accepted models. As Modern Finance Professionals, our job is to question everything, to find flaws in thinking and method where present, and to propose a superior vision. Our goal is to show how better results are not only achievable but impactful. Our enlightened experience and refusal to accept status quo as the gospel meant we understood that inherent weaknesses in existing approaches, and failure as a result, is our nemesis. Undue process, wasted effort, and lack of confidence in intel is the battlefield we fight on.
We combat the ill-planned and the illogical with insight. We assure victory through visionary ways. For us, unique technology, distinct process and education is our holy trinity. This awakening is what drives us, what drives business forward, and what fundamentally drives results.
Before real change can happen, we have to ask, “Is there a better way?”
There is. And we can find it together.
Lance Tylor, CMA, CPA
Managing Partner, President – ActionKPI
Alberta Chairmen, CIMA
About the Author
Lance Tylor is the Modern Finance Professional. A CMA / CPA, Business Owner, Executive, and Chair for CIMA Alberta, Canada. Lance’ passion for Business Strategy has fueled his quest to constantly look for a more efficient and effective way forward. The answers lied within combining the worlds best technology, and analytic engines with the CMA / CPA skillset. The result was a modern approach to Financial Performance Management, Integrated Planning, and ultimately the creation of his firm ActionKPI.