How Finance Professionals Should Prepare for a World After COVID-19

Finance and accounting professionals
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Article by: Zohaib Zubair

Those who cannot change their  minds, cannot change anything

George BernaRd Shaw

Recent times have been quite disruptive to say the least, the pandemic has caused people and organisations to adopt to a new era where work from home (WFH) has become integral. The downturn in economic activity due to lock downs and WFH has made businesses re-adjust and right size their workforce. Like other functions finance professionals have been severely impacted and a very valid question pops out…what’s next?

It is imperative for us to understand there is only one thing which is permanent and that is CHANGE. As finance professionals we need to adapt, make ourselves embrace this new era and have the skills which bring us ahead as compared to our competition. In this article I will briefly touch on some of the important skills / traits which would be required for business:

Data understanding: 
The fuel of the Industrial Revolution, data is a critical asset for every company. The data is useless to a company unless there is data literacy—people equipped with skills to understand the data and make better decisions. With the right data, companies are able to better predict the impact of future business disruptions and are better able to serve customers with the right products and services during or after any pandemic. Professionals with data literacy will be even more appealing to prospective employers than ever before.

Technology is advancing at a very fast pace – example P2P is fully automated with work continuing from home. In the last few months we have also noticed Robotics take key role in the finance function. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has taken great shape and should be one of the key skills to have post COVID19. One of the best ways to prepare yourself for a post COVID19 world is to acquire technology skills. The COVID19 pandemic is fast tracking digital transformations in companies as they are trying to become more resilient to future outbreaks and disruptions. The reality is that technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality, and robotics will make businesses more resilient to future pandemics, and anyone that can help companies exploit these technologies will be in a great position.

Adaptability and Flexibility:
One thing is certain, the way companies operate, and work are going to change. The world was already changing rapidly, but the pandemic accelerated it. There will be few “jobs for life”. Someone that is going to succeed in a post COVID19 world will need to be able to adapt to ever evolving workplaces and have the ability to continuously update and refresh their skills.

Emotional intelligence: 
Ability to be aware of, express, and control our emotions and be aware of others’ emotions is what emotional intelligence is all about. Be courteous and understand the situation others are impacted with. Being in someone else’s shoes helps you understand what they are going through and this skill can help you have a personal touch with your team. This will help you get the most of them.

The above are just the key skills we may concentrate on, and others may be valid too. But what can you do and how to get them? Below may be a guiding steps for professionals:

  • Consider online courses for data analytics and Robotics Process Automation (‘RPA’).
  • Understand your business and existing IT environment – look at technologies. that may improve business performance and be efficient.
  • Be more open to change / embrace it with positive attitude.
  • Be more considerate, listen and understand.

Despite initial fears that the pressure would be too great, you discover that this new way of working could be a blueprint for the long term. That’s what leaders of many companies around the globe are finding as they respond to this crisis.

I wish all finance professionals good luck as we fight through this time.

About the author:
Zohaib Zubair is a seasoned professional with broad experience of more than 15 years in various aspects of financial planning/budgeting, reporting, control and management accounting including assurance / advisory engagements. This diverse experience has enabled Zohaib to develop a comprehensive understanding of the competitive and regulatory environment of a broad spectrum of industries with in-depth knowledge of their accounting and internal control systems.

This article was originally published on Zohaib’s LinkedIn profile.

About The Accountant 103 Articles
The Accountant’s Diary aims to provide short, snappy and shareable content on the topics of accounting, auditing, finance, business and technology.

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