5 Challenges Faced by Finance Managers In 2021

Posted 19th Mar 2021

The coming, and hopefully now somewhat going, of Covid-19 around the globe and here in the UK has brought challenges to pretty much every living sole and of course many businesses, which I’m focusing on here…and specifically in respect of senior finance managers and their teams.

Indeed, many senior finance managers expect the pandemic and its legacy to have significant effects, many of them negative, on their respective businesses, but that subsequently adapting new technologies where possible and appropriate and streamlining accordingly will most certainly aid recovery planning.

In no particular order, here are just five of the challenges finance function around the country may soon face, if indeed they aren’t already, though quite possibly to differing degrees depending on one’s employer and the sector within which they operate. 

Digital transformation
Cloud computing for example, if not already employed, is now an outright necessity to accommodate effective and efficiently productive remote or home working, in the longer term or even permanently, for large percentages of previously office-based finance teams. This is at times and in some cases easier said than done, with prompt agreement at board level hard to secure perhaps. Failure to embrace this change though may well leave an organisation trailing its competitors of course and lead to further unwanted issues in the long run.

Working more closely and collaboratively with IT
Following on from the previous point, this then is most probably more important than ever. Again, yes often easier said than done, as IT itself tends to evolve incredibly rapidly, therefore making it difficult for finance functions and their respective manager to keep up with. Therefore, partnering more formally with IT can give the finance manager greater perspective and insight when it comes to required technology and the potential, or not as the case may be, for practical implementation or integration to improve processes and overall agility. 

Returning you and your team to the office
You may or may not require all your finance team to ultimately return to the office once lockdown(s) cease and restrictions are sufficiently eased, you may in fact, as apparently a good deal are, be firmly considering a hybrid model of working where your team and you spend some of the week together physically and the rest of it together, albeit digitally. Whatever your planned preference though, clarity is key, and this may well require updates and additions to current policy, as well as some succinct commentary on the rationale behind the call for a return to office life. Some of your team will be counting the very days until they can once again have you cast your eye over their work and literally over their shoulder, while some will be less enthusiastic. Adequate notice though, if indeed you haven’t already issued it, is essential as many will need time to re-adapt, having not so long ago adapted to home working, and, even Covid itself aside, will be experiencing some anxiety about returning to the physical workplace in general. How flexible can you really be if need be?

Supporting ‘furloughed’ staff
Managing those members of your team that have until now been furloughed or indeed may still be for a while longer yet may be another key challenge to deal with effectively. Transition planning will be essential to ensure that those members of your team remain feeling, or if necessary, have the renewed feeling of being, a valued member of the crew. Efficient ‘catch-up’ strategies will be invaluable and go a long way to assisting with this, as will the re-iteration that their previous or current furlough status is not related to the future potential within the company. 

Financial and all-round personal well-being  
Furloughed staff, particularly if on reduced pay, may well have experienced or still be experiencing financial hardship in some shape or form and this along with general mental wellbeing, which could certainly be adversely affected by the afore mentioned financial challenges, will also be or should be a priority area for monitoring. Identifying these problems early will be important and it can be argued that finance functions as a whole, by definition of course, are well placed to offer meaningful support in terms of appropriate advice and suggested plans for addressing. At the end of the day just putting in regular calls to not only check on general wellbeing, but also the overall performance and day to day effectiveness of home base technological tools, will pay dividends and nurture the ongoing feeling of inclusion.

Image by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

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