Emerging finance ‘super hub’ cities are likely to attract the world’s best emerging finance and accounting talent, while traditional finance career hierarchies could be disrupted as the hunt for the next generation of finance leaders changes course in the wake of the changing face of global finance operations, says a new report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
In a glimpse of how businesses may make the most of their finance capabilities in the near future, senior finance leaders from organisations such as IBM, Accenture and Deloitte, have told ACCA the search for and retention of talent in the sector is likely to evolve as the footprints of global finance functions change, pointing to the possible emergence of finance delivery ‘super hubs’ – cities that attract and hold the best talent.
The report identifies Manila and Chennai as among the emerging 'super hubs'.
"With finance transformation, and the growth of shared services, outsourcing, and increasingly global business service operations much of tomorrow’s finance talent and perhaps some CFOs of the future in the largest businesses may emerge from these super hubs where shared services and outsourcing is established in a handful of cities that become magnets for career progression," says Jamie Lyon, ACCA head of corporate sector and co-author. "Concentration in fewer locations may also push the transformation of finance delivery to further embrace technology and encourage even greater levels of innovation."
Deborah Kops, managing principal of sourcingchange.com and co-author of the report, adds: "Finance leaders are realising that the future looks quite different to what they experienced when they climbed the career ladder. The move towards increasingly global business models and the expanding remit of the finance function creates a need for new capabilities. Add changing demographics and on-going technology developments, and the talent equation looks quite different."
However, ACCA said there could be a downside to the emergence of these finance epicentres. The ACCA report The Future of Finance Talent points out that other cities aspiring to build a reputation as good locations in which to base transactional finance processes – because of the numbers of local graduates – may find it difficult to compete with the market leaders.
Lyon adds: "New contenders may be excluded from the finance delivery map. Young finance professionals in these aspiring ‘hubs’ might find fewer opportunities as the largest businesses concentrate in a few key cities for most of their finance operations. There is also a concentration risk with further consolidation of finance operations into particular locations."
A shift from cost to capability?
The report also suggests that access to talent may take precedence over cost as one of the primary drivers for the locational strategy of global business service and outsourcing finance operations in the future, as well as significantly altering the demographic profile across global finance functions.
Kops adds: "We are already seeing 24-year-olds in India and Malaysia taking on job responsibilities that it took baby boomers in the West 20 years or more to learn. They are now managing accounts, processes and teams, replacing managers who may be as much as twice their age. There will be more pressure on finance organisations to be more proactive in giving these new professionals the skills needed to become complete finance professionals and one day emerge as finance leaders on the global stage."