The move to a digital world is transforming our working landscape, and no more so than in finance. It has created a strange time of uncertainty and change which is liable to be equally scary as it is exciting.
And one of the major changes in recent years has been the emergence of virtual Financial Directors. These aren’t holographic accountants but FDs who make use of digital tools to offer their services remotely, often for a number of different companies.
It’s a role which is particularly attractive for SME’s who, in harsh economic conditions, may struggle to afford the cost of a full-time in-house FD. Instead they have the option of using a virtual Finance Director on a part-time or pay-as-you go basis.
It’s an extension of the basic accountancy services which many companies already outsource. The virtual FD, however, can offer much more than just book-keeping and compliance services.
It is a role which can use the person’s experience and expertise to provide advice on sources of finance and general strategy guidance from a finance perspective.
The exact nature of a virtual FD’s role is likely to vary greatly depending on their own skill-set and also the specific needs and budget of the company.
What has enabled this role is the ability of cloud computing to provide virtual FDs with real-time data from the company. As more cloud-based services such as webexpenses are used, FDs are able to monitor and analyse remotely.
It has the potential to be an exciting new world for Finance Directors. They have the kind of skills and expertise which are desperately needed by companies who are looking to stay afloat on stormy economic seas.
It allows them to open up their services to a whole range of new businesses and adopt a much more flexible and dynamic way of working.
But there is also the fear of what happens if larger organisations also start moving towards using virtual FDs. That the cost savings will override the major benefits of having somebody in-house.
There are issues of just how effective it’s possible for an FD to be when they are having to juggle their time between multiple organisations. As well as the loss of that in-depth perspective which working face-to-face with a company provides.
But these are the same kind of quandaries being faced throughout the world of work as we try to figure out which digital fruits are going to make our businesses healthier and which could leave us feeling sick.
Whatever the future may hold, there is the security of knowing that intelligent people with the skills required to maintain and nourish an organisations’ finances will always be needed – whether they’re sat in the room next door or an office on the other side of the country.
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I write on technology, business processes, assisted technology and developments in the software industry. Professionally, I am a software engineer with keen interests in entrepreneurship, tech, startups, movies and games.