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Senior public sector finance professionals look ahead with lessons learned from the pandemic

The realities of senior public sector finance leaders’ management of the COVID-19 pandemic are shared in a new report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and CA ANZ (Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand).

Published in Leading recovery: the evolving role of senior finance leadership in the public sector, attendees at various global roundtables identified three major areas where the public sector faces difficulties in the years ahead: recruiting and retaining finance professionals, preparing for reducing budgets for public services and adapting to wider societal changes.

Looking back, they reveal how professional accountants led with agility to enable their organisations to support governments’ aims of saving lives and protecting livelihoods. Increased spending, streamlined decision-making processes and better integration of the finance function epitomised the work of senior finance leaders and their teams during this time.

Building on the experience of the pandemic, ACCA and CA ANZ say there are six key lessons for public sector finance leaders to focus on. They need to transform systems to build organisational resilience and make better use of data. They must rethink leadership approaches, to empower staff and provide visible leadership. And they need to ensure their

organisations adapt to new ways of working to focus on purpose, then place and break down barriers.

ACCA and CA ANZ have also identified an ‘ABCD’ of skills which public sector finance leaders of the future will need to develop: adaptability, business sense, communication, and determination.

Md Sajid Khan, Director-India at ACCA says: ‘Reflecting on the experience and learnings due to pandemic, the public sector will be better prepared for the future. Most significantly, it will also ensure that senior finance leaders are equipped to navigate the wider challenges ahead. Additionally, aspiring senior finance leaders will need adaptability, business sense, strong communication skills and, most importantly, real determination to deliver the effective public services the world needs in the years ahead.’