Embrace a digital mindset for the future of finance

Finance professionals who can wholly embrace digitalisation will bring new insights, drive business performance, and better adapt in a future of constant change.

Over the past 18 months, I've had the opportunity to travel and meet face to face with our members and candidates, as well as our regulatory, academic, and business partners in Sri Lanka, South Africa, the UK, Indonesia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and China. I always enjoy these meetings — they are a great way for me to understand what is on their minds, assess emerging needs, and evaluate how we can best support them.

In recent months, I've noticed that one question has come up in almost every conversation I've had: What does the future look like for the accounting and finance profession? While we can't predict the future in its entirety, we can stay prepared for it in the following ways.

Adapt to constant change

Research for a recent International Monetary Fund blog post found that the COVID-19 pandemic triggered an increase in digitalisation, especially in economies or industries that had been lagging behind. This surge helped many companies survive lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions through remote work and switching their operations online.

But this isn't a completely new phenomenon. New and emerging technologies were already pushing finance teams to radically transform and become more agile well before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. In fact, back in 2019, our Re-inventing Finance for a Digital World white paper found that accounting and finance professionals needed to adopt new mindsets and skills to remain relevant in the modern business world.

What is different, however, is that we now live and operate in a world where the pace of change is relentless — and as a profession, we need to keep up and stand out from the crowd.

Embrace digitalisation for new insights

New and emerging technologies are revolutionising our profession and will continue to do so in years to come. In fact, 2022 research by VIC.AI, an artificial intelligence firm, found that over half of CFOs are seeking to use new technology to generate more insights and improve their team's efficiency.  

That is an opportunity for us. It means we can dedicate our time to high-value activities and bringing new strategic insights to the decision-making process, which will help drive performance and sustainable success for our organisations.  

Another way of looking at this shift is that the "management" half of management accounting is more important than ever. We will move from processing and collecting data to using it. That does not mean that our technical skills become obsolete; it means that they are applied in new ways to new areas. 

Those of us who work in this way will become business partners, effective relationship managers, and trusted providers of reliable, actionable, and insightful data. We will be able to work with a wide variety of businesses' internal and external stakeholders, provide insights, and develop an in-depth understanding of how risks are managed and value is created.

However, if we are to make the most of this opportunity, we must keep our skills up to date and embrace a transformative digital mindset. 

Stand out from the crowd

The good news is that when you combine this digital mindset with the CGMA designation, you have an advantage in a deeply interconnected world. You can show employers anywhere in the world your understanding of business, your commercial acumen, and your expertise as a business partner and value creator. Plus, as a CGMA designation holder, you are using a distinct credential that cannot be confused with any other designations or be replicated by other accounting bodies. This clearly distinguishes you from the crowd.

Find resources to keep pace

As your professional body, it is our role to help you navigate unfamiliar — and sometimes chaotic — times to maintain your career advantage.

We work hard every day to provide the latest research, thought leadership, and a library of leading-edge resources to help you stay ahead of the pack, employable, and competent for a digital world. They include:

  • The syllabus for CIMA's CGMA Professional Qualification and the CGMA Competency Framework, which focus extensively on preparing current and future accounting and finance professionals to leverage the full power of technology and data to create and add organisational value.
  • Help in developing a transformative digital mindset to confront complexity, to work in an agile and creative manner, and to harness curiosity in order to continually learn, unlearn, and relearn to adapt to the digital world.
  • Access to reports and thought leadership research, which provide the insights needed to succeed in the modern business world, analysis on the future of the profession, and guidance on the skills needed for the new world of finance.

Finance professionals who are proficient in new and emerging technologies will be well placed to capitalise on the opportunities of an interconnected world. That's why it is critical that we become comfortable with harnessing new and emerging technologies and go from just "doing digital" to "being digital". Today, being future-ready means that we constantly reinvent ourselves. A transformative digital mindset, coupled with the CGMA designation, puts you in prime position for the future of finance.

Andrew Harding, FCMA, CGMA, is chief executive–Management Accounting at AICPA & CIMA, together as the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants. To comment on this article or to suggest an idea for another article, contact Oliver Rowe at