Technology and analytics named top investment priority for CFOs in Hong Kong, a joint KPMG and ACCA survey finds

Organisations enhancing digital infrastructure for new flexible working arrangements; Firms on the lookout for talent with diverse skill sets

HONG KONG, Oct. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- CFOs in Hong Kong indicate technology implementations, business intelligence and data analysis as their top investment priorities, according to a joint survey by KPMG and ACCA Hong Kong.

The report, titled Looking beyond Business Disruption: Hong Kong's technology-driven future, surveyed 200 CFOs and finance middle management across various industries, with a focus on how finance functions can refine their existing operating models in order to cope with the current trend for increased technology adoption in Hong Kong.

The survey revealed that organisations have overall coped adequately with the disruption brought about by COVID-19. Finance staff are able to work flexibly away from the office through technology workarounds. However, some survey participants said the level of organisational support to effectively use the implemented technologies can be improved. 

Tracy Shum, Director of Management Consulting at KPMG China, says, "Disruptions over the last year have left a lasting impact on organisations. While many organisations in Hong Kong manage to deliver and show considerable resilience, many others identify areas for significant improvement. The recent prolonged period of business disruption has been a catalyst for finance functions to review their operating and technology strategy. A transformation is required on the organisational structure, people policy and processes to allow finance functions to fully capitalise on their technology investments and manage team welfare."

There is a strong appetite for investment in technology this year. At least 32 percent of all respondents selected technology implementations (18 percent) and business intelligence and data analysis (14 percent) as the top initiatives they prioritise.

The combination of talent and skill sets needed in finance has gradually evolved and organisations are inclined to look for talent specialising in data analytics, technical finance knowledge and management skills. Respondents believe data analytical skills (20 percent), leadership and project management office skills (17 percent), technical accounting and reporting knowledge (15 percent) and technology skills (14 percent) will be the most important skill sets that finance professionals should possess in the next 5 to 10 years.

There is still room for improvement in how they can support finance staff in the face of technological change. Only a third of the interviewees believe technology could help them complete tasks faster and allow workers to focus on other activities. The most critical challenges are deemed to be a heavy reliance on paper (32 percent) and company culture or policies not supporting flexible working arrangements (24 percent). These hurdles pose significant challenges for finance staff to complete their work as usual.

Beyond COVID-19, the increased adoption of technology has already driven senior management to reconsider the role of shared services or outsourcing. Nevertheless, 59 percent of surveyed finance professionals still identified shared services or outsourcing as a requirement given the enhanced focus on technology adoption. In particular, they believe technology can help improve the efficiency of work (22 percent) and make outsourcing more cost-effective (16 percent). Organisations will therefore need to weigh up the opportunity to automate and the best ways to achieve resilience.

Eunice Chu, Head of Policy at ACCA Hong Kong, comments, "Across all sectors, finance functions can benefit from enhancing their operating model to be more agile and fluid. All change comes at a cost, but technology investments will result in medium-term quantitative benefits and improved operational resilience."

About KPMG China

KPMG member firms and its affiliates operating in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau are collectively referred to as "KPMG China". KPMG China is based in 26 offices across 24 cities with around 12,000 partners and staff in Beijing, Changsha, Chengdu, Chongqing, Foshan, Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hangzhou, Jinan, Nanjing, Ningbo, Qingdao, Shanghai, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Suzhou, Tianjin, Wuhan, Xiamen, Xi'an, Zhengzhou, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR. Working collaboratively across all these offices, KPMG China can deploy experienced professionals efficiently, wherever our client is located.

KPMG is a global network of professional services firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services. We operate in 147 countries and territories and have more than 219,000 people working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. In 1992, KPMG became the first international accounting network to be granted a joint venture licence in mainland China. KPMG was also the first among the Big Four in mainland China to convert from a joint venture to a special general partnership, as of 1 August 2012. Additionally, the Hong Kong firm can trace its origins to 1945. This early commitment to this market, together with an unwavering focus on quality, has been the foundation for accumulated industry experience, and is reflected in KPMG's appointment for multidisciplinary services (including audit, tax and advisory) by some of China's most prestigious companies.

About ACCA

ACCA is the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. We're a thriving global community of 227,000 members and 544,000 future members based in 176 countries that upholds the highest professional and ethical values.

We believe that accountancy is a cornerstone profession of society that supports both public and private sectors. That's why we're committed to the development of a strong global accountancy profession and the many benefits that this brings to society and individuals.

Since 1904 being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. And because we're a not-for-profit organisation, we build a sustainable global profession by re-investing our surplus to deliver member value and develop the profession for the next generation.

Through our world leading ACCA Qualification, we offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. And using our respected research, we lead the profession by answering today's questions and preparing us for tomorrow. 

ACCA now has 27,000 members and 154,000 future members in China, with 11 offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shenyang, Qingdao, Wuhan, Changsha, Hong Kong SAR and Macau SAR. The year 2020 marks the 70th anniversary of ACCA Hong Kong. ACCA will continue its commitment in enabling ACCA members to deliver their best, and developing the accounting profession the world needs.

Find out more about us at www.accaglobal.com/hk70 or follow ACCA Hong Kong on social media: www.facebook.com/ACCA.HongKong | www.instagram.com/acca_hk | www.linkedin.com/showcase/acca-hong-kong | WeChat ID: ACCA_HK

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