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Accounting & Audit

September 2018 Accounting and Audit Channel

Role of Financial Leaders Continues to Expand

By Isaac M. O’Bannon, Managing Editor

Financial leaders continue breaking the mold and expanding their influence throughout their organizations. In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, finance executives most frequently reported their roles have grown over the past three years to include more human resources (39 percent) and information technology (28 percent) efforts.

Finance leaders were asked, “In which one of the following areas outside of traditional accounting and finance responsibilities, if any, has your role expanded most over the past three years?” Their responses:

Human resources


Information technology




Sales or business development






You can view an infographic at

“Financial executives’ positions involve playing many roles — part strategic advisor, part data scientist, part collaborator — in addition to their traditional responsibilities,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “They collaborate with human resources in areas as diverse as hiring and compensation, compliance, and organizational culture. They also pair with their IT counterparts on initiatives ranging from technology investments and systems implementations to cybersecurity.”

Deeper understanding of HR and IT has enabled financial leaders to address staffing challenges  by adopting a robust labor model, Hird added. “Accounting and finance departments rarely enjoy extra resources, and added work or major events, such as an acquisition or a large accounts reconciliation initiative, can set off alarms and panic,” he said. “In response, executives are using more comprehensive staffing strategies, including automating routine tasks so employees can focus on higher-value projects and working with managed services providers for access to specialized, scalable teams on demand.”

For additional insights on staffing strategies financial executives employ, see The Labor Model for Finance in the Digital Age from Robert Half and Protiviti at

Robert Half Management Resources highlights five skills today’s financial executives need:

  1. Leadership — Developing and retaining a talented team are top priorities for accounting and finance managers. Executives must excel in guiding their staff, including managing and motivating a multigenerational workforce.
  2. Collaboration — As their roles expand into nontraditional areas, financial executives can succeed only if they work well with colleagues in other departments.
  3. Communication — Financial leaders must be comfortable sharing information with diverse audiences, from entry-level staff to the CEO and board of directors.
  4. Technological aptitude — Financial executives don’t need to know all the tricks of new tools, but they should have an innate curiosity about them and a short learning curve.
  5. Change management — Change can be scary, particularly when it comes to work. Leaders must be able to share company news, good and bad, and what it means for their teams.




Top Accounting & Audit Social Media:

Remaining Relevant: The Auditor of the Future. Tom Hood, via LinkedIn.

How AI Can Help Improve the Audit Process. AICPA Insights.

FASB Amends Disclosure Requirements for Defined Benefit Plans. Wolters Kluwer blog.

Ransomware: How Can You Save Your Files? Thomson Reuters blog.

The 7 Habits of Highly Ineffective Auditors. CCH TeamMate blog.


Top Accounting & Audit News:

XBRL Costs for Small Companies Have Declined 45%. The cost of XBRL formatting for small reporting companies has declined 45 percent since 2014, according to an updated pricing survey from the AICPA.

GASB Proposes Improvements to Reporting of Conduit Debt Obligations. Proposal would provide a single method for government issuers to report conduit debt obligations and related obligations.

Accounting Pros Expect Cryptocurrency to Expand in Business Use. Blockchain isn’t just disrupting how business is conducted, it’s disrupting the demands on accounting and finance functions.

Financial Execs Plan to Modernize Compliance in Coming Year. Resource levels for compliance teams are expected to increase (27.5 percent) or stay flat (37.6 percent) in the year ahead for the majority of organizations.

FASB Proposes Narrow-Scope Improvements to Accounting for Lessors. Proposal would reduce costs and ease implementation of the leases standard for financial statement preparers.


See inside September 2018

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