3 Key Takeaways from Microsoft’s 2019 Finance Trends Report

Are you a finance pro who has taken on a larger role at your association? Here's what you can learn from Microsoft's 2019 Finance Trends Report.
Are you a finance pro who has taken on a larger role at your association? Here’s what you can learn from Microsoft’s 2019 Finance Trends Report.

By The Protech Team

Chief financial officers have more influence than ever at associations. Don’t believe us? Here’s what Associations Now’s Contributing Editor Mark Athitakis wrote in 2018:

“CFOs don’t just get to be CFOs anymore. Increasingly, they’re being called up on to take on the leadership roles that have long tended to stay in the CEOs office.”

This theory was reiterated throughout Microsoft’s 2019 Finance Trends Report. For those interested, the full report can be downloaded here. But if you’re looking for a few association-related highlights, here are our three key takeaways.

2019 Finance Trends Associations Need to Know

1 – Technology is becoming the CFO’s responsibility

Microsoft sums up the CFO’s role in two truths.

  1. “If something impacts the bottom line, it’s the CFO’s responsibility.”
  2. “Everything impacts the bottom line.”

Since technology plays a huge role in the overall success of a modern organization, it’s one of the biggest contributors to the bottom line, requiring a fair chunk of an association’s annual revenue.

Leading-edge organizations and associations have already recognized these trends and incorporated their CFOs into big IT-related decisions, like determining whether the association will get a return on investment from a new online member community or association management platform. By leaving the CFO out of the conversation, associations are putting themselves in position to increase long-term financial risk.

2 – Finance pros are digital technology pioneers

From the expansion of the telegraph in the United States for banking transactions to the introduction of Bitcoin on blockchain, finance professionals are quick to make use of new technology to increase productivity and performance. CFOs at associations are driving similar innovation today.

According to Microsoft’s 2019 Finance Trends Report, the most common focus of finance professionals today, in terms of technology, is data and analytics.

Twenty-three percent of finance leaders believe that improving “big data and analytics capabilities to transform forecasting, risk management, and understanding of value drivers,” is the most common priority, according to Microsoft. That fact might be why so many software providers for associations are now harnessing the capabilities of tools like Power BI, enabling CFOs to make data-driven decisions.

3 – CFOs strive to reduce cyber risk

Some say all press is good press. Unfortunately, that’s not the case when it comes to organizations who fall victim to cyber attacks.

And while those massive hacks that steal the headlines seem few and far between, it’s fair to wonder if your organization will be next.

The last thing any association needs when trying to recruit and retain members it that kind of negative press. And according to Microsoft, many CFOs are well aware of what’s at stake.

You don’t want to be the association known for unwittingly releasing a bunch of member data. Instead, make sure you’re partnering with software vendors that prioritize data protection.

While Microsoft’s reports are generally geared toward for-profit operations, they are enlightening for association leaders, too. This particular report affirms what Mark Athitakis wrote on Associations Now, and explains what’s at stake by not broadening the CFO’s role at your association.

To learn more about association finances, check out another blog post, “3 Benefits of an Integrated Financial System.”