AFTER A YEAR OF COVID

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Author: Daniel Butcher
Date: Mar. 2021
From: Strategic Finance(Vol. 102, Issue 9)
Publisher: Institute of Management Accountants
Document Type: Article
Length: 3,392 words
Lexile Measure: 1400L

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the finance function irrevocably. CFOs have had to adapt on the fly.

MARCH 2020 was the month when it became apparent that COVID-19 would spread to every inch of the globe, causing an incomprehensible amount of suffering and disrupting our lifestyles and work routines as well as the global economy, including supply chains.

At the approximate one-year anniversary of the pandemic spreading worldwide, six CFOs speak about how their roles and responsibilities have changed in the face of COVID-19 and how their finance function and overall organization have had to adapt to overcome the various challenges presented by the shifting business landscape.

Lamentable Anniversary

The pandemic has forced many senior executives, including CFOs, to move the health and well-being of employees to the top of the priority list. Dan McSherry, CFO of Bankers Healthcare Group (BHG), said that the potential for a sudden global event to impact the entire business in such a short amount of time became a reality in 2020.

"My responsibilities as CFO evolved from a focus on the financial aspects of the company to considering the effects that the pandemic would have on both the business and all of our employees," he said. "While I had been used to focusing on major events impacting our economy, a significant health concern across the broader population and throughout our employee base was new to a lot of us."

Today, CFOs are expected to play a more strategic role across their organizations, working more closely with different departments to understand their priorities and develop plans based on various financial scenarios given the uncertain environment. Coupled with this broader role is the increased need to ensure organizations are compliant with regulatory changes.

"As a human capital management software company, we needed to make 13 tax-related changes to our clients' payroll systems over the past nine months as new COVID-19 regulations were released," said Brandon Grinwis, CFO of Ascentis. "CFOs have a significant role in this compliance effort and need to continually understand what is changing in the regulatory environment and its impact on their respective organizations."

For most CFOs, the pandemic has changed their role in a number of ways, including an increased need to be agile and to adapt to the reduction in cycle times, which has impacted everything from reporting to employee workload. Migrating to an entirely remote workforce was a big change.

"More than ever, it's critical to share up-to-date information and work with my team to deliver reporting on a weekly basis," said Shane Hansen, CFO of Planful. "The shift to remote work has been felt by all of us.

"I personally used to think finance, accounting, and FP&A [financial planning and analysis] needed to be physically together to be efficient, but I've realized during the pandemic that my team can be incredibly effective in a remote environment, " he said.

This shift has also made it clear that CFOs and other leaders need to take employee morale and mental health...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A654001997