2020 has presented everyone in the field with challenges. Keeping staff in a recession, setting up teams for remote work, and trying to preemptively navigate the impact of the election all have left controllers across the United States looking for answers.

A Wave in a Larger Sea of Change

But no matter how much has changed, 2020 is just a small sample. Take a look at the past five or so years, and you’ll realize that nearly everything is different. Changes in tax law, accounting standards, people, and technology have all put new pressures on the finance and accounting organization to evolve, adapt, or suffer.

From AI setting decision makers up with better information to constantly evolving standards and tax laws, the accounting department will have new opportunities and challenges they need to watch in coming years. But what should your first approach be?

Luckily, we had the same question. We recently asked your peers for their thoughts on the changing role of the finance organization, and following our webcast and in anticipation of our newest survey, we would today like to discuss some of the trends worth noting.

Preliminary Results of The Contemporary Controller 2020 Benchmark Study

Part of any accounting or corporate finance role is the ability to evolve and adapt to the pressing challenges that are affecting businesses today.

Just part of a much larger study and webcast, we recently surveyed several hundred accounting and corporate finance professionals to explore the evolving role and needs.

The Obvious: You’ve Been Working Harder

Nearly everyone saw more work in 2020. When asked whether the responsibilities increased, decreased, or stayed the same, a vast majority—73 percent of all respondents—saw heavier workloads. But it’s not just the controller who saw his or her role increase. 78 percent of CFOs took on more work in 2020, slightly higher than average.

Driven in part by a talent gap, in part by a revenue shortfall, and in part by this new remote work landscape, professionals have been working harder.

The Delegated: Controllers Able to Take on Supervisory Responsibility over AP/AR

A bright note for many controllers—you don’t have to do as much work on transaction processing. When asked about their top supervisory responsibilities, roughly three in four controllers and CFOs delegated both sides of a transaction, with 73 percent of controllers supervising purchasing and AP and 71 percent leaving orders, billing, and accounts receivable to a report. CFOs were even more likely to oversee these roles, supervising 76 and 73 percent respectively.

But you may want to ask how beneficial this is. Fraud has ramped up in the wake of the Coronavirus, and without a properly automated approach, it’s easy to get lost. Poor visibility and long processing times expose the blind spots, and with a recession in play, this might create an opportunity for a report to get away with a few bucks. Something discussed in Auditoria.AI’s eBook, 2020 Survey of Automation in the Finance Back Office, automating these processes may not only be a competitive advantage, but a lifeline for your business.

The Future: Uncertain—but with More Technology

Though the controller role has evolved in recent years, whatever is coming next appears to be uncertain. However, based on survey results? The future is going to be built on FP&A, technology, and corporate strategy.

FP&A will continue to become more prevalent—46 percent of controllers expect to take on more responsibility for this in coming years. But so will technology, a role that nearly a third of controllers expect to have a hand in, and corporate strategy—with 31 percent planning a long-term approach.

The Contemporary Controller:  Changing Roles & Responsibilities Benchmark Study (2020)

The year 2020 will go down as one of the most memorable years in recent history. Understandably, this may not be a good thing—a pandemic, recession, election year, and shift in operating environments will do that to you—but no matter how you look at it, life looks a lot different than it did this time last year.

If you want to be among the first to receive this report, the best way to have it delivered is to join the Controllers Council or subscribe to our mailing list. We’re putting the finishing touches on this report and can’t wait to share the full results with our members.

Want even more insights? Members and Non-Members alike are invited to watch our free Contemporary Controller webcast recap featuring a discussion between Lindy Antonelli, Controllers Council Board Chair and Guy Barkwill, Assistant Controller of Bill.com on what the results mean to you. Click here to watch the free recap. Or view the full report.