Shared services leaders increasingly see a career in shared services as a long-term option, as a development opportunity and a gateway to other business careers, according to the latest report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
The report challenges commonly-held beliefs about shared services careers and draws on the insights of executives to provide advice on how to navigate the shared services finance function.
It offers clues on how the finance function may evolve its career pathways and makes the following key observations about shared services:
- Shared services roles are increasingly seen as an attractive career choice;
- Finance leaders electing to pursue shared services careers are challenged and engaged by the variety these roles offer and are not necessarily looking for a path out;
- The skills required for success in a shared services leadership role generally start—but do not end—with finance;
- Shared services are now seen as a strategic imperative and a real creator of business value and, by association, so are their leaders;
- Technological innovation is defining the future of finance shared services.
“As new finance operating models mature, finance leaders increasingly see time spent in shared services as a long term development opportunity and less as career limiting,” says Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector, ACCA.
“Shared services offer a unique opportunity to broaden their capabilities and soft skills increasingly sought by the business.”
The findings also suggest that technological innovation and the future application of automation and artificial intelligence is likely to further transform shared services and shape many of the skills most valued.
Almost 80% of respondents agree or strongly agree that technology will allow shared services professionals to focus on higher value-adding activity, ultimately putting to rest the ‘finance factory’ reputation of shared services.
“While new opportunities will emerge, so will new challenges and pressures on finance shared services professionals,” says Lyon.
“Leaders will have to ensure they keep themselves abreast of technological advances, not only to satisfy businesses’ ever-growing appetite for data insights but also to attract and retain the best and brightest talent.”