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The Importance of Data and Analytics in Finance Transformation 

In this episode Jason talks to Grant Deans, a world-renowned expert on using data and analytics for financial transformation. He has worked all over the world in various finance departments and currently holds a CPA while working towards his Masters in Finance.  

Listen to this episode on Spotify, iTunes, and Stitcher. You can also catch up on the previous episodes of the Hub & Spoken podcast when you subscribe. 

What are your thoughts on this topic? We’d love to hear from you; join the #HubandSpoken discussion and let us know on Twitter and LinkedIn. 

   

One Big Message 

The word ‘transformation’ often invokes a feeling of massive and rapid changes. Instead, shift your focus to creating agility in your company by creating smaller milestones. If you section larger goals into small steps and celebrate the small wins, you will be less likely to burnout your team and systems.  

 

[00:50] Why data is so essential to transformation in finance 

[08:40] Where does financial planning and analysis sit in relation to the finance sector 

[11:00] Grant’s journey from accountant to finance transformation 

[15:55] The argument for data specialists vs. finance specialists with data knowledge 

[21:00] How to approach large transformation without burning out your employees or breaking your systems 

[28:32] What Grant suggests to help boost productivity and improve transformation within a company 

 

Traditional Finance vs New Finance 

The need to stay relevant has forced many industries to evolve including the finance sector.  

Previously, traditional finance heavily relied solely on singular rails of knowledge such as accounting.  

However, in order to keep up with emerging data technologies has meant that other skill sets such as maths and data have become vital in finance roles and departments. 

 

New finance also requires companies to make rapid shifts due to the efficiency of modern-day data collection. Results and feedback on implementing different ideas can be provided almost immediately and monitored in real-time. Integrating data and analytics into financial planning allows companies to make swift changes and stay ahead of the curve. 

 

Financial Planning and Analysis 

Financial Planning and Analysis is an emerging field where AI and algorithms are utilised to improve performance in the finance sector. In the future, FP&A might break away from traditional finance, moving toward strategic support with the assistance of data tools. 

 

There is a strong case to argue that data can be solely handled by a data and analytics team with their acquired information disseminated to other departments for review. The case for having separate financial planning and analysis teams is due to the complex nature of interpreting financial data. By having a team that collaborates on both data and finance, companies are able to interpret financial data with sound strategic backing and knowledge 

 

Transformation and Agility  

Transformation shouldn’t have an end goal, instead see it as a series of short sprints. This way people can remain agile and adapt when needed. In a modern and rapidly-changing environment those who are faster at adapting will be able to thrive instead of just survive.  

Creating short sprints when creating a transformation serves a logical purpose. If too much changes too soon you will find that a lot of systems will start to become overburdened and break down. Similarly for members of a team, if you try to create mammoth changes too often you will find that people will start to get stressed and fatigued with the increased pressure. To avoid this, get your team on board early and concentrate on small wins. 

 

Strategy for Transformational Success Using Data 

Some tips for using data across different departments 

  • Test data – never take raw data for granted. Make sure it has been verified, cleaned up and compiled ready for analysis by experts in their fields.  
  • Align the data for different departments and ensure that the data is relevant to the challenges they are facing. What is relevant to the marketing department, might not be relevant or will need to be adjusted for the finance or HR department.  
  • Find experts in their field who are able to gradually add to their skillsets. Because traditional education hasn’t caught up with the data and analytic needs of the financial sector it is important to bring on team members who are willing to learn. This might include accountants who are willing to add data analysis into their skillset, or data analysts who are willing to learn about the nuances of the financial sector.  
  • Celebrate every launch. Create and maintain momentum in your team by creating small milestones and celebrating regularly. This will help to re-energise your team members and demonstrate progress in your long-term projects.  

 

To Summarise 

Don’t get overwhelmed by the term ‘transformation.’ Instead, be willing to remain agile in your data and analytic needs while adapting them to different departments. Constantly analyse your performance and be willing to adapt and improve where needed.  

 

 

 

 

 

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