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Driving High Performance Through Finance Workforce Mastery 

Driving High Performance Through Finance Workforce Mastery

 

 
 
Tags:  consolidation  finance workforce  finance transformation 
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Published:  November 29, 2011
 
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Slide 1: A World of Opportunity: Driving High Performance through Finance Workforce Mastery
Slide 2: Globalization, a force that has been shaping the political and commercial world for decades, has entered a new and more complex phase.
Slide 3: It is no longer a concept exported to the emerging world by the traditionally dominant economies of the West. Now, emerging economies have fully embraced globalization and packaged it up, sending new versions back to the West. In this new phase of globalization there are multiple centers of economic power and activity—a concept Accenture calls the multi-polar world. Even—and especially—during today’s challenging times, the impact of the multi-polar world is being felt by companies as they struggle to navigate the choppy waters caused by the global economic downturn. In this environment, companies are positioning themselves in one of three ways, based on the degree to which their business has been impacted by the economy: • Survive: Some enterprises are forced to focus primarily on short-term actions to manage costs, cash flow and revenues, and to ensure survival. • Reposition: Armed with a strong balance sheet and healthy, if reduced, revenues, other organizations are exploring ways to use the downturn to strengthen competitive advantage. • Grow: The strongest companies are actively building market share through mergers, acquisitions and international expansion, by adding customers and by strengthening their brand. As part of their response to the economic downturn, companies are readjusting their workforce priorities. With the need to reduce organizational costs, companies are pursuing such actions as taking a more global approach to sourcing talent and fundamentally redesigning processes to separate lower-cost transactional activities from value-added analytical activities. They also are revisiting their compliance and ethics activities to ensure their people continue to pursue the right and ethical corporate governance activities. If they are making workforce reductions or engaging in merger and acquisition activities, they now are forced more than ever to make sure they have the right talent with the right skills to achieve their future strategic objectives. And while in times of growth they may have been worried about their aging workforce retiring, now they must adjust to keeping an aging workforce productive even longer as employees stay on the job to make up for the steep losses they have incurred in their retirement savings due to the global market meltdown. The preceding, of course, applies to all workforces but is especially relevant to the finance function. As it strives to fulfill its increasingly important role in supporting and guiding the enterprise through turbulent economic conditions, the finance organization must rethink how it attracts, retains, develops and manages its people. Indeed, the speed with which the global market changes, the volatility imposed by multiple currencies and electronic exchanges, and the sheer complexity of operating on a global scale in countries or regions of varying degrees of development place extraordinary demands on an enterprise’s finance organization— and even more so during difficult economic conditions. It is the finance organization that must take the lead in driving the enterprise toward continuing value creation, ensuring that the enterprise possesses the strategies, capabilities and information to succeed in a hypercompetitive global market even as it continues to control and contain costs. Perhaps the most important factor in accomplishing this critical goal is the finance workforce. Accenture’s High Performance Finance Study How should companies respond to this challenge? The Accenture High Performance Finance Study offers some guidance. Through this comprehensive study, Accenture explores the most pressing challenges facing finance executives around the world, how they are faring in addressing these challenges, and the strategies and practices that leading organizations are employing to contribute to high performance in the finance organization and the enterprise at large. In the most recent research effort— our third—we surveyed more than 350 finance executives in companies representing 30 countries across a range of more than 20 industry sectors. To augment our survey findings, we conducted in-depth interviews with several finance executives at other organizations to explore how they were dealing with the challenges facing today’s finance organizations. We also tapped specialists within Accenture for their insights on high performance from roundtable discussions with hundreds of finance executives and from their work with finance organizations at businesses and government entities around the globe. An important part of this study focuses on the finance workforce, and the research has revealed several people-related challenges and opportunities on the road to high performance. Since the time we conducted the most recent installment of our research, much has changed in the fundamentals of the global economy. However, what has not changed is the fact that talent management is more relevant than ever—especially those talent management capabilities that enable companies to adapt to varying market conditions. 2
Slide 4: Significant gaps in a critical workforce Our study indicates that finance executives are not especially enthusiastic about the state of their finance workforce. Only 9 percent of finance executives surveyed were very satisfied with the effectiveness of their organization’s finance workforce and just one-fourth said their finance workforce possessed “deep and specialized” skills. Despite these statistics, only onethird of finance executives said they planned to implement new workforce programs such as leadership development, retention, rewards/ compensation, career development or performance measurement in the next two years. In fact, our survey showed that many companies were lagging in implementing practices they themselves consider critical to building and sustaining a superior finance workforce (Figure 1). For instance, respondents viewed regular and meaningful communication between employees and their supervisors and other finance leaders as most critical to maintaining a workforce capable of delivering high performance. But such communication occurred in only 48 percent of the participating companies. Similarly, having key finance business processes documented and understood by employees was deemed critical by 58 percent of respondents, but only 44 percent said they had put it into practice. Put simply, this means that in over half of the companies we surveyed, employees didn’t thoroughly understand their own business’s processes, and in many cases a lack of documentation would thwart any efforts to learn about them. Our survey revealed even larger gaps in other areas between what executives know to be important and what they and their enterprises actually do. For example, 56 percent of executives believed in making coaching and mentoring an integral part of everyone’s responsibilities, but only 37 percent enforce the practice. Fifty-five percent of respondents believed that leaders should be proactive in building relationships at all levels of the organization, but only 36 percent did so. Furthermore, encouraging innovation and providing employees with opportunities to share their ideas was viewed as an important part of the finance leadership role by 52 percent of executives, but only 38 percent said that such a culture existed within their organization. These are significant gaps, especially when one considers that these practices were self-defined as important by survey respondents. Further, when we examine a second tier of criticality, the gaps grow even larger. For example, while nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) Figure 1: Finance Workforce Practices: Top Tier in Importance versus Extent Employed Regular and meaningful communication occurs A formal performance management program is in place Key processes are documented and understood Industry benchmarked/competitive salaries and benefits are offered Coaching and mentoring activities are an integral part of everyone’s responsibilities Leaders proactively build relationships at all levels Performance rewards tie to both individual success and enterprise profitability Finance leadership encourages innovation and provides employees with the opportunities to share ideas Training and training materials are readily available to employees when needed Well-defined talent sourcing strategy is in place Financial Planning and Analysis division reports into the finance function Formal finance competency model is in place defining required skills Critical feedback is provided in real time and is an embedded part of the finance function culture Well-defined talent selection process is in place Career advancement includes rotations through various roles within finance 0% 10% 20% 30% 16% 49% 55% 48% 30% 48% 33% 47% 27% 47% 33% 40% 50% 60% 44% 56% 45% 56% 37% 55% 36% 53% 44% 52% 38% 52% 43% 49% 60% 48% 59% 60% 58% Seen as Critical Employed by Companies 3
Slide 5: believed having a well-defined talent sourcing strategy is critical to the finance function’s success, such a strategy is in place in only 16 percent of the companies surveyed. Similarly, 47 percent believed a well-defined talent selection process is equally important, but only 27 percent had such a process in place. Companies also said they struggle to build competency models for the finance function, which may explain why so many lacked defined sourcing or selection practices. In fact, almost half (48 percent) of executives surveyed thought having a formal finance competency model that defines required skills is important, but just 30 percent had such a model in place. Further, among the 42 percent who believed having a formal finance model for different career levels is critical, only 26 percent actually employed one. What these figures suggest is that many companies are not only illprepared to compete for talent in the global market, they are also at risk of making bad hires—engaging people who may not have the skills the finance function needs to support the strategy and operations of the larger enterprise. In addition, the lack of rigor and process around talent sourcing and selection may prevent organizations from fully surveying the pool of available talent. Indeed, our research shows that companies are more likely to fill finance management positions from within the finance function (47 percent) than from outside the enterprise (38 percent), perhaps missing the best available talent (something that’s especially critical during down times, when good talent may be more plentiful due to downsizing efforts by other companies). Just as troubling are the things that most finance executives do not view as critical to high performance in the global arena (Figure 2). For example, at a time when the pressure to keep overhead costs low is intense, we would expect finance executives to be more interested in using shared services or centers of excellence. After all, both of these tactics enable companies to more effectively leverage their existing resources. In addition, by centralizing employees via shared services or centers of excellence, a company reduces redundancy and duplicate roles, thereby directly reducing overhead costs. However, shared services and centers of excellence were viewed as critical to effective finance workforce management by just 35 percent of respondents. Figure 2: Finance Workforce Practices: Bottom Tier in Importance versus Extent Employed Employee satisfaction surveys are regularly conducted and results are shared Finance management positions are often sourced from within finance Formal finance competency model is in place for different career levels Finance leadership provides employees the time necessary to complete training Individuals are encouraged to proactively seek training on new topics and technologies Formal finance training program is in place with a curriculum linked to developing required skills Role descriptions are clearly aligned with key processes Creative benefits are offered based on strategic surveys of employees’ needs/desires Global and local communities of practices have been established and are effective at sharing knowledge Centers of Excellence are employed for scarce skills such as M&A work, complex deal pricing or tax strategy Finance shared services are utilized Organizational charts are kept up to date and are easily accessible A knowledge management tool has been provided (such as a database for capturing and sharing intellectual assets) Finance function focuses on re-training the existing finance workforce rather than the hire/fire approach Finance management positions are often sourced from the external market with experienced professionals Finance management positions are often sourced from line management 0% 10% 46% 49% 43% 47% 26% 42% 40% 37% 40% 33% 25% 28% 40% 38% 38% 35% 37% 34% 35% 40% 35% 46% 34% 42% 20% 32% 31% 31% 22% 38% 15% 16% 20% 30% 40% 50% Seen as Critical Employed by Companies 4
Slide 6: Achieving mastery over finance workforce challenges Indeed, most companies in our survey indicated they had critical shortcomings in key finance capabilities—not only in the finance workforce as mentioned earlier, but also more broadly across finance organization management, enterprise performance management, finance and accounting operations, corporate finance, and enterprise risk management. This situation could be preventing finance organizations from operating at an optimal level. However, a subset of the companies in our survey reported having more advanced capabilities, on average, across the five major capability areas mentioned above. We call these organizations “finance masters,” and the differences between masters and non-masters are striking. For example, masters were much more likely than non-masters to employ all but one of the leading workforce practices identified as critical by Accenture, especially (Figure 3): • A formal finance competency model that defines required finance workforce skills. • Finance leadership that encourages innovation and offers employees opportunities to express and share ideas. • A formal finance competency model designed for different career levels. • The ready availability to employees of training and training materials when needed. • A knowledge management tool that supports the capturing and sharing of intellectual assets. • Regular conducting of employee satisfaction surveys in which the results are broadly shared. • Documentation and explanation of key business processes. In particular, masters are strongly and tightly focused on talent management. These organizations know that finance skills are the fuel on which the finance organization runs. Without an adequate supply of those skills, or without a sufficiently high-octane level of skills, the finance engine sputters, misfires, and struggles to perform at a high level. To build the type of finance workforce necessary for the enterprise to excel in today’s challenging global environment, companies must have a highly effective approach to talent management, built around four key areas (Figure 4): defining talent needs, discovering talent sources, developing talent’s potential, and deploying talent strategically. Defining talent needs A truly effective finance workforce begins with a company first understanding the business strategy and the finance organization’s strategy, and subsequently defining the talent necessary to deliver on those strategies (beginning with a clear understanding of the talent currently on hand). To get the greatest return from human capital investments, a company must know where it has leverage—which workforces and areas of the business have the greatest strategic impact and are critical to maintaining the company’s distinctive capabilities. For most companies today—especially global organizations grappling with the challenges of the multi-polar world— the finance organization has become a strategically important workforce and a valuable contributor to a company’s growth and profitability. One example of a company that recognized the importance of the finance function and its talent is the enterprise created by the merger of two large companies. The CFO of the newly formed entity faced a major challenge in improving both the efficiency and effectiveness of the new finance organization. Working with Accenture, the CFO embarked on an ambitious effort to define a new strategy for finance, which included developing a new global finance talent strategy. Using the Accenture Talent Management Framework to guide discussions, the Accenture team met with finance leaders globally to understand the specific talent challenges they faced in defining, discovering, developing and deploying talent. Issues uncovered ranged from an aging workforce and lack of mobility in some locations to a skills shortage and high competition for talent in others. To create a common platform for discussing talent at a global level, a finance competency model and talent review toolkit was developed to gather key data on the finance workforce, analyze workforce trends and begin to close the gap between the organization’s existing capabilities and those of finance masters. The competency model mapped key skills and competencies to roles in corporate, transactional and business unit finance. A resulting talent management road map provided the strategic direction for the CFO to begin to create a finance workforce that could take the organization toward high performance. Among the elements the road map included were the following: • Leadership development plan. • Plan to embed the competency model in all talent management practices from recruitment to training and performance management. • Link between talent management and enterprise performance management and key performance indicators. • Employee value proposition. • Guidance for evaluating and improving employee engagement. • Career management, including career path mapping. • Coaching and mentoring. 5
Slide 7: Figure 3: Finance Workforce Practices Extent Employed: Masters versus Non-Masters Practices Employed by Participating Companies Workforce performance Global and local communities of practices (i.e., informal networks of people with shared interests) have been established and are effective at sharing knowledge A knowledge management tool has been provided (e.g., a database for capturing and sharing intellectual assets) Training and training materials are readily available to employees when needed Coaching and mentoring activities are an integral part of everyone’s responsibilities A formal performance management program is in place Critical feedback is provided in real time and is an embedded part of the finance organization culture Career advancement includes rotations through various roles within finance 46% 42% 67% 54% 62% 54% 42% 34% 17% 41% 37% 60% 33% 32% Masters Non-Masters Finance competencies Formal finance competency model is in place to define required skills Formal finance competency model is in place to define different career levels Formal finance training program is in place with a curriculum linked to developing required skills 62% 58% 33% 28% 24% 25% Finance organization structure Finance shared services are utilized Financial Planning and Analysis division reports to the finance organization Centers of Excellence are employed for scarce skills such as merger and acquisition work, complex deal pricing or tax strategy 67% 67% 37% 45% 55% 40% Employee engagement Industry benchmarked/competitive salaries and benefits are offered Creative benefits are offered based on strategic surveys of employees’ needs/desires (flex-time, floating holidays, tuition, childcare, etc.) Employee satisfaction surveys are regularly conducted and results are shared Regular and meaningful communication occurs Organizational charts are kept up to date and are easily accessible Leaders proactively build relationships at all levels Key processes are documented and understood Role descriptions are clearly aligned with key processes Performance rewards tied to both individual success and enterprise profitability 71% 58% 71% 58% 62% 58% 67% 50% 58% 46% 33% 48% 47% 40% 35% 42% 26% 45% Workforce adaptability Individuals are encouraged to proactively seek training on new topics and technologies Finance leadership encourages innovation and provides employees with the opportunities to share ideas Finance organization focuses on retraining the existing finance workforce rather than the hire/fire approach Finance leadership provides employees the time necessary to complete training 62% 71% 42% 50% 33% 37% 29% 36% Talent management Well-defined talent sourcing strategy is in place Well-defined talent selection process is in place Finance management positions are often sourced from within finance Finance management positions are often sourced from line management Finance management positions are often sourced from the external market with experienced professionals 42% 54% 62% 29% 50% 14% 24% 48% 14% 37% 6
Slide 8: Discovering talent sources Once a company has identified its critical talent needs, the next challenge is to consider where that talent could come from. Indeed, participants in our survey indicated one of the biggest opportunities presented by globalization is access to a broader base of skilled workers at competitive costs. In Accenture’s experience, leading companies typically use a supply chain approach to talent sourcing, asking questions such as: • What talent do we have (inventory)? • What sources of talent supply are available? • Should I push inventory on my suppliers (contingent sources of talent)? • Where should my people be located (warehousing)? • Can I source from lower-cost locations? • What attrition rate am I incurring (loss and shrinkage)? • Do I understand future demand for skills (supply/demand balancing)? For example, the Texas-based oil-refining giant Valero Energy Corporation won Workforce Management magazine’s award for innovation in 2006 for developing one of the first talent supply chains.1 Beginning in 2002, Valero used the chain to reduce the time required to fill an open position from 120 days to 40 days, and to reduce the cost per hire from $12,000 to $2,300. This improvement came while the company was growing phenomenally, from 2,000 employees in 2000 to about 22,000 by 2006, with annual revenues of $75 billion. The most significant results, however, were strategic. The talent supply chain now enables Valero to forecast demand for talent three years out, at the division and job-title level. These projections allow the company to make strategic decisions about whether to hire new employees, enlist contractors or outsource the work. Dan Hilbert, the Valero executive in charge of the project feels, “For the first time, talent pipelines can now be developed years in advance to meet specific future talent needs. It’s pretty revolutionary stuff.” This capability has become essential in a multi-polar world, as organizations everywhere need to understand global talent markets, how to access new talent and where they should consider alternative talent sourcing strategies. To maintain a future flow of talent and to inculcate the adaptability necessary to respond to changing market conditions, this understanding must become second nature for organizations in pursuit of high performance. Figure 4: A Strategic Approach to Finance Talent Management Talent Mindset Define your talent needs Deploy your talent—right place, right time Measure and align Discover your sources of talent Develop your talent potential Talent Culture 7
Slide 9: Developing talent’s potential A capability for developing talent involves ensuring that finance employees continually acquire new skills and capabilities and prepare to take on new responsibilities. It establishes a central link between the development of employees’ talents and the accomplishment of the organization’s purpose and strategy. In that way, employee development is both ongoing and strategic. Although an employee development capability embraces specific educational or training initiatives, leading companies achieve much of their finance employees’ essential development simply as part of their daily work, through work roles and special assignments, and through relationships with others. For example, a US-based financial institution set out to create a comprehensive career development support program that would address employee demands for greater transparency and clarification of role expectations and career development opportunities. As a first step, the bank’s talent management group and Accenture conducted a series of focus groups with senior leaders and key finance professionals. These focus groups enabled the team to identify the knowledge, abilities and backgrounds of those employees who were successfully performing each finance role. With Accenture’s help, the bank then used these characteristics to establish a robust competency model and career development architecture for finance employees. With the new finance competency model in place, Accenture helped the bank to translate key elements of the model into a “front-end” career development support tool. This tool served as an online reference source for finance employees, allowing them to research information pertaining to their role or any other role in the organization. For example, the new model identified the work experiences, education and certifications that are prerequisites for success in particular roles. Similarly, the model defined levels of proficiency (from basic comprehension to mastery) that each employee should strive for in relevant competency areas and aligned each role to training opportunities. Ultimately, the finance organization believes the new career development support solution may drive higher employee satisfaction, as well as encourage greater use of other existing career development assets (such as training courses), improve performance of employees by clearly articulating and aligning expectations, and lead to higher retention, because employees will have access to information that provides greater clarity on career opportunities and development within the finance organization. Siemens also has developed mastery in developing the potential of its talent. Working with Accenture, the company created a sustainable training solution that allows it to embed, retain and increase the competencies of its finance workforce in a rapidly changing business environment. The new training approach, supported by Web-based training technology, covers six main training areas: organization compliance and management; accounting; reporting; controlling; taxes; and treasury. It is targeted to be used by more than 100,000 Siemens employees worldwide, and has helped Siemens keep finance employees continually up to date in the face of constant change. The program has also allowed Siemens to consolidate finance knowledge from around the organization into one set of training programs, as well as to define specific curricula appropriate for each group in the finance organization. Employees benefit by gaining access to Web-based training and a consistent knowledge base with content updated quarterly—a vast improvement over the earlier timeconsuming classroom training with inconsistent and partly outdated content. The new training program has been in place for 33 months (as of February 2009). During that time, the course catalog has grown to 261 hours of training in 150 courses for 73 training units; the program has expanded to cover employees in 84 countries; and more than 100,000 certificates have been awarded to more than 62,000 active users. Deploying talent strategically Companies with leading capabilities create the best possible match between their employees’ talents and aspirations and the needs of the business—both in terms of day-to-day activities and in the longer term. Such enterprises show imagination in giving their people opportunities to move within the organization, discovering new capabilities within themselves and gaining insights from previously unfamiliar parts of the business. Leaders also are adept at enabling the sharing of knowledge and best practices, and in making their people aware of how they can use their talents to best improve the organization’s performance. For example, a global healthcare company has 1,200 finance people around the world, all of whom report to the finance organization but are assigned to support different business units or functions. This approach enables finance to more effectively support the business while also allowing its finance professionals a chance to develop their skills and expertise along a well-defined career path. “If somebody is sitting out in Chile, for example,” explains a finance executive at this company, “he’s the finance manager there, making sure the business in Chile is very successful. This is his primary measure of success. However, he’s [also] part of the finance organization—his career, his future, his home is in finance—and the standards and processes he works with are set by me and the finance leadership team.” This, according to the finance executive, addresses one of his greatest challenges—getting everyone in a highly decentralized organization moving in the same direction without tampering with well-established and effective reporting relationships—while giving the employee the ability to move laterally or vertically within the organization in pursuit of career development. 8
Slide 10: Driving high performance with a superior finance workforce Mastery of finance workforce management issues is much more than a “nice-to-have.” Our survey results, combined with Accenture’s experience with leading companies around the world, indicate that the quality, productivity, and structure of the finance workforce play a vital role in the finance function’s ability to achieve its objectives and create value for the larger enterprise. Achieving objectives and creating value are among the most important cornerstones of high performance. However, many finance organizations in pursuit of high performance are encountering an increasingly challenging environment. In particular, the forces of globalization have given rise to aggressive new competitors, have added complexity to the successful management of global organizations, and have opened up new talent markets and sourcing models to navigate. Add to that the challenges associated with a global economic downturn, and it is not surprising that many finance executives struggle to make the most of this new world. Indeed, our research shows that finance executives are aware they face several important workforcerelated challenges and opportunities, yet in many cases they are not taking the actions they should to lead their people to the highest possible levels of performance. For example, when it comes to improving communication, documenting and teaching key business processes, mentoring and building relationships, and encouraging innovation, executives participating in our research were much more likely to recognize the need than to be doing anything about the problem. The same was true of having well defined talent sourcing and selection strategies, considered by many to be basic capabilities for building a superior finance workforce. Encouragingly, a group of leading companies have already demonstrated mastery of the most significant finance workforce challenges and opportunities. These masters have deeper skills in several key aspects of workforce management and in particular lead the way when it comes to talent management. Our research study and the insights gained from Accenture’s extensive consulting experience reveal a simple yet compelling pattern: Masters identify the talent they need to pursue their strategies, innovate in the sourcing of that talent, and then develop and deploy talent in alignment with their most important business goals. This proven approach enables finance masters to avoid jettisoning the wrong staff in the name of cost cutting (thus compromising their competitive position), get the best out of every resource they have access to, and create the kind of workforce necessary to accelerate the achievement of high performance when economic conditions ultimately improve. 9
Slide 11: 10
Slide 12: About Accenture Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. With approximately 177,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, the company generated net revenues of US$23.39 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2008. Its home page is www.accenture.com. About Finance & Performance Management The Accenture Finance & Performance Management service line helps clients on their journey to high performance by identifying critical issues relative to the office of the CFO, setting strategic direction and successfully delivering innovative solutions to transform their finance management capabilities. We offer a range of financial consulting services, focusing on the areas of corporate finance, enterprise performance management, finance operations and risk management. We have the breadth of experience, global resources, superior assets and deep knowledge and insights to help the CFO create new forms of value. Our extensive research, insight and innovation, global reach and delivery experience have made us a worldwide leader, serving thousands of clients every year, including many of the Fortune 500 companies across virtually all industries. For more information, visit www.accenture.com/fm or contact: fpm.service.line@accenture.com. Copyright © 2009 Accenture All rights reserved. Accenture, its logo, and High Performance Delivered are trademarks of Accenture. 1Cheese, Peter; Thomas, Robert J.; Craig, Elizabeth, The Talent Powered Organization: Strategies for Globalization, Talent Management and High Performance, Kogan Page (2007) http://www.accenture.com/ talentpowered

   
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