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The Impact of IFRS 17 and the Changing Accounting & Finance Landscape

The Impact of IFRS 17 and the Changing Accounting & Finance Landscape
There has been a lot of buzz in the Financial Services industry (particularly insurance) regarding the new international accounting standards, which are due to come into force in January 2021. Superseding IFRS 4, a lot of companies have already begun implementing software and process changes across the globe but for most New Zealand finance teams, it is all quite new to us! We already know that the changes will affect how insurance policies and contracts are assessed, yet for employers, what does this mean for your talent strategy, especially considering the other trends and changes in the industry?

Handling the IFRS 17 Transition

What we’re likely to see, as New Zealand-based organisations begin the transition over the next 18 months, is an increased demand for accounting professionals in a couple of areas: Risk and Compliance, and Business Analysis. With most Finance Controllers and Finance Managers unlikely to have the capacity to carry out BAU in addition to handling the IFRS 17 transition, there are a couple of options worth considering. Should a project team be brought in to deal with the changes? Or would it be better to bring in contract professionals to support BAU, allowing the team to manage the transition alongside software vendors and other stakeholders?

Changing Times

It’s not just IFRS 17 that’s causing changes – regulatory/legislation changes, not to mention automation and digitisation, are transforming the way Finance teams go about their roles. What’s clear is that there are a lot of Financial Services organisations that are stretched to capacity, and as a result, they are restructuring their Finance teams to meet these changes head-on. We’ve certainly come a long way since the times where teams were largely focused on transactional, day-to-day tasks. While managing the bottom line and reporting will always be business critical, in the Financial Services industry, these changes are creating plenty of opportunities that will allow people to move away from BAU and focus on specific areas.

What does this look like in practice? We’re seeing a trend of more Finance professionals stepping into specialist roles; widening their skill sets and providing more value. One example is the rise in analytical business partnering. As well as collaborating with teams and departments (such as Marketing, Sales and HR) to solve real-world problems, they’re also working alongside senior management teams to develop strategies for investment and future growth. One other specialty worth noting (borne from various regulatory/legislation changes) is the rising demand for people with Risk and Compliance expertise as organisations look to increase business efficiency.

Closing Thoughts

In a world that is constantly changing, will this focus on specialist roles be sustainable? Is it one size fits all? Does it mean that having specialist roles will limit people’s career progression and skill sets? Given that New Zealand is a small market (with SMEs the majority), candidate demand will always be different from larger economies. While jobs might be changing as a result of restructured Finance teams and other changes (in an effort to better shape the business to a better operational model), it’s certainly an exciting time to be a part of the industry. What changes have been affecting the way your finance team operates? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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