In the previous post in this series, we discussed how insurance CFOs are tackling the problem of finding and/or developing the talent needed to undertake sophisticated analytics and other activities related to the reimagining of the finance function.

This was a key issue highlighted in our research into the new role of the insurance CFO. Along with the need for specialized talent, CFOs are making the case for investment in new technologies and are helping define who within the organization should take ownership of that most valued asset, the company’s data.

The tasks facing CFOs are complex and difficult. But there isn’t much time left for deciding on the preferred course to take; the insurance sector is moving forward quickly. The survey findings pointed us toward four priorities for insurance CFOs:

  1. Create a powerful case for emerging technologies. CFOs are trusted stewards of the enterprise. If they can fully understand the potential of new technology and articulate its benefits to the rest of the organization, that potential can rapidly translate into momentum and scale. And, even if the organization is not ready for digital transformation, the CFO should be leading planning initiatives to direct the path of change.
  2. Leap-frog, don’t dabble. Insurance businesses are accelerating their adoption of new technologies in finance, but some are reluctant to move beyond small-scale applications. For new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to fulfill their promise, the CFO should encourage the function to adopt a new mindset – one that is willing to experiment and adapt quickly to change. Taking an informed leap to the next destination is preferable to being left behind.
  3. Collaborate for data. Many insurance CFOs also see themselves as natural stewards of data within the business, but this can only be possible with the cooperation of other functions, the creation of more holistic ecosystems, and/or the purchase of third-party data. Collaborating is key, but it requires focus: finance can derive insights from a more complete data set, but it requires clear connection with the business leads and alignment with strategic direction.
  4. Rethink the skills challenge. Little is possible without the right talent, yet the industry is struggling to get the skills it needs. Adopting AI and “borrowing” talent can help to overcome this challenge, but to compete with other industries CFOs in insurance should consider how they can inspire a wider range of talent to enter the industry. 

As our research shows, CFOs and their teams are well-placed to steer their organizations through a time of rapid change. By directing investment, taking ownership of data and securing needed talent, insurance CFOs can lead the insurance industry into the digital era.

To learn more: 

Click here to download the full multi-industry study on the changing role of the CFO.

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