By Jeff Thomson, CMA, CSCA, CAE

Though many hoped 2021 would be a year of full recovery from COVID-19, the reality has been more complex. Progress is being made, as vaccination rates slowly tick upwards and public sentiment improves, but we are still far from the complete economic recovery and return to normality many suggested would happen. In a sign of the cautious mood, this month, Goldman Sachs revised down its growth outlook for 2022 from 4.2% to 3.8%, due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Competent management accounting teams are critical for responding to this changing environment in a way that instills confidence and helps organisations build strategies for the new paradigm.

In fact there is room for optimism given the new emphasis business leaders are placing on agility for the short-term and anticipatory thinking for the long-term. This represents a pivot in thought and action, perhaps one that was long overdue. At IMA, we have been championing the need for finance and accounting professionals to move beyond the compliance mindset to engage as full business partners and as future-focused strategic planners who use data to anticipate the future. It is this future-focused orientation that makes management accountants so valuable to their organisations, and I believe 2022 is the year when their skills will be best utilised and recognised.

If I had one prediction to make for 2022, it is that there will be more uncertainty and risk. Automation will continue to be deployed in the hope of mitigating some of the risk. A recent Bloomberg article cited a Federal Reserve survey in which one-third of CFOs indicated they are exploring or implementing automation as a way of mitigating exposure to COVID-19 related issues among workers. The war for the best talent will continue unabated, as organisations experience labour shortages and ripple effects from the Great Resignation of 2021. PwC reported in an August 2021 survey for CFO Dive that “65% of employees were looking for a new job, and 88% of executives said their company was experiencing higher-than-normal turnover.” Investing in employees and making their organisation “the destination of choice” will fall on the CFO’s shoulders.

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