2020 has put a lot of pressure on firms and their people. Recessions, lockdowns, and election year antics have been a challenge for some and a call to greatness for others. Changes in technology, processes, and communications required new tactics as companies shifted to fully remote work. Companies took steps to drive inclusivity initiatives and address diversity challenges.

Understanding how others reacted to constant changes in the world of accounting and corporate finance has been the mission of the Controllers Council since our founding, and was also a top highlight of the Accounting Today Top 100 Most Influential People of the Year. The guide shared insights from firm leaders, technological influencers, and corporate finance professionals and celebrated those making an impact. 

From discussing the tactics to exploring careers, responses to the pandemic, and more, winners were asked to share their biggest takeaways from the year that was 2020. Here are just some of them.

Technological Innovation Will Continue

From automation to AI, one of the biggest things we’ve spent the year discussing is the impact of technology on accounting and corporate finance professionals. Many leaders shared this sentiment, including Jeff Thomson, President and CEO of Institute of Management Accountants.

According to Thomson,

“The technological revolution it is currently undergoing, especially related to artificial intelligence and automation. Far from being a “job destroyer,” AI can allow finance and accounting professionals to unlock their full potential as strategic business partners within their organizations.”

Joel Black, Chair of the GASB, echoes this sentiment, highlighting the consumption and use of data and the impact it will have on company decisions. Black notes,

“Financial information is already being consumed in a very different way and the rapid changes in technology will only continue to evolve that consumption.”

Make Technology Work for Your Firm: Becoming a Digital Transformation Champion

Still looking for tips on how to transform your role and your business? You’re in luck. We’ve just announced our newest webinar on the role that controllers should play in championing Digital Transformation at their firm. Scheduled for January 21, you can learn more and register here.

Diversity and Inclusion Remain atop the List of Priorities

Cited by a wide range of thought leaders, diversity and inclusion initiatives remain a challenge for leaders and an opportunity for those who can do it right. Herschel Frierson, Chairman of the board of directors at the National Association of Black Accountants notes the constant need for these initiatives, noting that “It is the same issue we’ve been facing for many decades — creating a more diverse and inclusive profession.”

A sentiment shared by Sandra Wiley, President at Boomer Consulting Inc., who adds, “Now is time for us to move forward and strengthen our position in the area of diversity, inclusion and equality.”

Diverse voices can bring on more value, as new people from different backgrounds can put organizations in a stronger position. Kimberly Ellison-Taylor notes that,

“Diversity of thought is non-negotiable and critical to our ability to look around corners and protect the public interest. Together, we absolutely can make a difference.”

A Welcoming and Future-Ready Company Needs Diverse Voices

A diverse company is a strong company that can find new approaches to success. This was discussed in our highly attended webcast on the opportunities that can come as a result of incorporating black voices into the C-Suite.

The Black C-Suite: Challenges and Opportunities features three black executives that will share experiences in their journey to the C-Suite, with expert panelists discussing ideas and solutions for improving representation.

Ongoing Talent Shortages and Skills Gaps

Even in a pandemic, recession, and environment filled with layoffs, many companies still faced challenges in securing accounting talent. Tim Ryan of PwC cited the digital skills gap, calling it “[…] one of the greatest threats to our workforce — both in our profession and corporate America as a whole.”

Both corporates and firms need to address this, adds Barry Melancon, President and CEO, AICPA; CEO, Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, “More than ever, all of us in the profession must retool our skills to ensure we are capable to truly bring insight, advice and relevance to businesses.”

Necessary Skills for the Future: Free and Discounted CPE Courses

The right skills and talent will position companies for the future and it will pay to help people get more out of their roles. One of the biggest benefits of Controllers Council Membership is the access to discounted CPE courses to help drive personal and professional growth. As 2020 comes to an end, we’re excited to invite the community to a January webcast reviewing the technical changes in the profession.

Presented by our CPE Partner Illumeo, 2020 Year End Technical Accounting Review offers 1 CPE credit for those with CPA, CPD-IES7, CMA, CIA, or CRMA licenses and explores the most significant pronouncements, standards and advisories coming from governing bodies. Learn more and register here.

New Year, New Challenges

A new administration, new tax challenges, and an ongoing lockdown all will put pressure on companies in 2021. To address these, controllers need a place where they can discuss best practices and learn about how they can make an impact. We launched the Controllers Council to help make your professional goals more achievable. From our job board to our community, we’re here to help you along the way. Get to know more about the benefits of membership and join today.

Additional Resources

Resolve to Improve Your Monthly Close in 2021

Optimism Abounds among Financial Leadership, According to New Survey

New Year, New Focus: How Controllers Can Become Digital Transformation Champions

WEBINAR - Transform Collections and Planning with AI BotsTuesday, July 27

Attention corporate controllers: in the last year, the collections and receivables universe has been transformed. Join Auditoria.AI and UserTesting as they share real-life examples of how Collector bots have automated the front lines of dunning and collections efforts. You will learn how to streamline your collections process with autonomous, zero-touch, error-free execution of repetitive, time-consuming tasks and how to free up your A/R teams to focus on higher-level responsibilities.