Finance functions

Seizing the opportunity - A Southeast Asia perspective


Throughout the pandemic, the financial strength and performance of most organisations have been severely tested. As a result, many finance teams in Southeast Asia (SEA) have gained a seat at the leadership table.

However, only 34% of the respondents to a PwC and ACCA survey felt that the enhanced role that finance teams have played during the pandemic would last.

“We have seen finance teams step up to the challenge and gain greater respect, and a seat at the boardroom table.”

Charles LohDigital Transformation Leader, PwC Southeast Asia Consulting

Three areas to address

There is an enormous opportunity for finance functions to strengthen its relevance and live up to the evolving demands and performance expected of them. They can increase the value of sustainability-based insights into strategic and operational decision-making and foster the right control mindset over these issues across the entire organisation. The three key areas to address are:

Data and technology

Respondents in SEA have a relatively stronger expectation in pursuing its digital capabilities in comparison to their global counterparts. This is particularly so for the following digital capabilities:

  • Forward-based analytics (predictive and prescriptive)
  • Adoption of automation and AI

Skills and careers

Nearly 40% of respondents in SEA perceive mental health of the workforce to be a concerning lasting impact on the finance function.

In the short term, leaders need to address concerns surrounding the workplace of the future, and in the long term, adopt new ways of working.

Innovation and collaboration

Creativity and innovation are the keys to success and both are only possible with collaboration.

Way forward

Here are six key actions for finance functions to consider:

  1. Redefine the focus of finance to include broader performance metrics for natural and human capital.
  2. Invest in technologies that can be used to create an support an enterprise-wide data model.
  3. Use predictive analytics based upon this model to drive more holistic business decision-making.
  4. Enhance business partnering and analytical skills to ensure that finance can fulfil this new role across the organisation and continue to improve collaboration both across it and with external parties.
  5. Drive for greater efficiency, productivity and standardisation across processes and common platforms.
  6. Through these actions, establish finance as the central point within the organisation for achieving sustainable and responsible growth and enhancing the reputation of the organisation.

“The challenge for finance teams now is to continue to remain relevant, to build on the progress made during the pandemic and take a central role in helping define business strategy and direction. It would be all too easy to shrink back into a familiar scorekeeping role as the economy grows and we return to something closer to what was once normal. But this would be a wasted opportunity for finance professionals and the organisations they serve.”

Daryl WangChief Finance Officer, South East Asia Consulting

About the report

In the joint research conducted by PwC and ACCA, we draw insights from several interviews and virtual roundtables conducted in April 2021 and a survey of ACCA members and affiliates, PwC contacts, and various chief financial officers (CFOs) to delve into how the finance function in SEA has been impacted by COVID-19 and the factors that organisations must consider in order for their finance function to remain relevant.

Find out more about the global insight

Contact us

Charles Loh

Charles Loh

Singapore Consulting Leader, PwC Singapore

Tel: +65 9735 2389

Ivan Phuah

Ivan Phuah

Finance Transformation Leader, South East Asia Consulting, PwC Singapore

Tel: +65 9675 4169

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