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Despite a fast-changing environment with constant technological advancements, finance professionals in Asia are confident in the future of finance. This insight was revealed in an SAP-sponsored study from CFO Research, which found that executives expect they will play a bigger role in the success of their organization in the future.

The global survey of more than 1,500 finance professionals was conducted to better understand how they view their roles within the organization. The results were surprising. Finance professionals say their current responsibilities expand well beyond traditional finance functions. They believe finance departments have become critical in meeting corporate performance goals. 

We talked to SAP CFOs from Asia Pacific, Latin America, Europe and North America to see if these trends held true across the globe. We found that our colleagues in Asia felt the same way. Listen to this podcast with SAP's Asia Pacific Regional CFO, Mr. Richard McLean to learn more.

Below are the top five insights from the nearly 300 executives surveyed in Asia.

1. Bright Future in Finance

Overwhelmingly, finance professionals are satisfied with their careers and feel that finance has exceeded their expectations in providing them with challenging and important work. In fact, more than 20% agree that their expectations have been exceeded substantially, and an overwhelming majority believe their role will become even more valuable over time. They look forward to new developments in finance that will give their role more relevance and will allow them to make an even greater impact.

2. The Evolution of the Finance Function

Finance professionals across the board are welcoming a fast-moving environment with lots of challenges. The report showed that the role of finance executives in many organizations is very broad - moving well beyond finance and accounting into a myriad of corporate disciplines including: procurement and risk management, tax issues, mergers and acquisitions (M&A), human resources, and supply chain management.

Because finance professionals have their fingers on the pulse of enterprise metrics, they believe their role will continue to expand into different areas of their companies.

3. Ability to Adapt

80% of respondents agree that the success of their organization will hinge on their ability to adapt to significant changes in the current marketplace. They know that successful organizations must be able to translate complex data into actionable advice and that their guidance in this arena will be invaluable in helping their organizations set goals and plan for the future.

4. Thriving in the Digital Future

Finance professionals are acutely aware of the increasing digitalization of finance. They must respond to the challenge of understanding and acting on the large volumes of data that their organizations process every day.

Over the next five years, 74% of people surveyed reported that the sheer volume of data will make it difficult for their organizations to make sense of it. Almost 80% of respondents believe that a major challenge will be handling large unstructured sets of data, commonly known as big data. At the same time, 50% of respondents did not believe they had the proper tools and infrastructure to produce high-value analysis and reporting on big data.

5. The Rise of Automation

Respondents reported they believe more automation will strengthen the finance function’s position in the organization. Increasing automation will free them up to do more high-value work, allowing them to partner with colleagues in other business units. Automation also provides valuable analytics that will give leaders better tools to make decisions.

Finance professionals believe more automation and better tools will increase collaboration and their ability to leverage big data. They see their influence extending well outside the finance function and making an even bigger impact on their organizations. To learn more about the changing role of the finance mandate in large and mid-sized companies, we invite you to download our study, "Thriving in the Digital Economy: Four Reasons Why Finance is Excited About the Future."