What does the future hold for those in the finance function? Controllers and chief financial officers (CFOs) should be aware of the following key trends for 2024 so they can be prepared for the ways these trends might affect their organizations and roles.

AI and Automation Technologies

One of the biggest trends for 2024 will be the continued rollout of AI-based technologies. Automation has already been a major push for many organizations across the nation, and as business leaders face talent shortages and increased competition, these automated tools will become all the more vital for maintaining smooth corporate operations.

As technology improves, industry leaders will rely more heavily on tools like RegTech to improve their regulatory compliance strategies and other core processes. Automated tools will dominate repetitive tasks as well as provide support for advanced planning and decision making.

Regulatory Changes

Controllers can expect the regulatory landscape to continue evolving throughout 2024. This includes everything from demands for cybersecurity disclosures to challenges surrounding ESG criteria, especially in an age where regulatory bodies are cautious about the possibility of “greenwashing” in an effort to curry favor with the public.

How do controllers intend to respond to these challenges? Many organizations are relying on cross-functional teams and collaboration across departments. The end result is a workforce that’s more resilient to shifting requirements and better able to bring their entire organization into alignment with industry best practices.

Digital Currencies

While digital currencies were once the subject of speculation, the future will involve a new wave of currencies such as the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). These digital currencies are simply the digital version of the country’s native currency, though as CBDC continues to develop, digital currencies will take a more centralized role in international trade.

Controllers therefore have a role in navigating the risks and rewards of these digital currencies. This means that financial leaders can take a leading role in integrating these currencies into the business’s primary operations while still taking measures to protect against volatility when operating in the digital marketplace.

Data-Driven Decision-Making

As AI technologies and enterprise planning systems become the norm, controllers will have a role in integrating various data streams to drive business decisions. Corporate leaders will rely on real-time data to optimize their processes, often on a recurring basis rather than waiting for monthly or quarterly reports.

To that same end, controllers will continue to face demand for their soft skills, including leadership and communication. As financial leaders take on a more strategic role within their companies, they will serve as advisors that influence the direction of the organizations they serve.

Cybersecurity and Data Privacy

In the digital age, cybersecurity has become all the more paramount. While some data security measures are addressed under regulatory compliance requirements, controllers will have to continually adapt their strategies to face a growing number of security threats.

Implementing robust cybersecurity measures such as network security and firewalls will rank high on the list of priorities. But so will corporate training to prevent data breaches coming from social engineering and phishing attacks. Breaches can result in severe regulatory penalties as well as legal and reputational consequences from leaking sensitive customer data.

Transparent Accounting Practices

Controllers already face challenges regarding adherence to regulatory demands. But as the general public becomes more aware of corporate priorities, it will become more necessary for companies to reveal exactly what “ESG adherence” means within their own organizations.

In other words, controllers and their teams will play a role in communicating company data not just to other leaders but to their stakeholders as well. Sharing information about your corporate initiatives can mollify disgruntled shareholders and provide clear strategic insight for prospective investors. 

Talent Management

It’s no secret that the financial sector is facing a shortage of qualified talent. How can controllers and CFOs be part of the solution? For starters, financial leaders can ensure that the budget allows for the acquisition of new talent, including the competitive compensation packages needed to retain new workers.

Second, financial leaders can set the tone for their entire organization. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement, controllers can work to upskill their existing teams and do more with the workers they have even while they pursue additional personnel.

Strategic Planning Beyond 2024

In addition to watching current trends, controllers will also play a role in strategic planning beyond the year 2024. Learning from current trends can empower financial teams to adapt their processes today in light of tomorrow’s challenges. 

The goal isn’t to predict the future, of course, but to adopt a posture of flexibility and resilience in spite of future uncertainties. As a result, your organization will have the resources it needs to not only stay the course for the immediate future but also learn to thrive and rise above the competition.