Agility, sustainability, and Gen AI in Finance Forum 2024 

We had the pleasure to successfully host a Finance panel discussion event on February 27th in Helsinki. Senior finance and controlling leaders from multiple Finnish companies gathered for breakfast and shared their thoughts on currently topical themes: agility in managing uncertainty, integrating sustainability in financial steering, and leveraging AI in financial and business steering. 

The discussion was led by three panelists: Juha Väre – CFO of Paulig, Mikko Björk – SVP in Corporate Controlling of Kone, and Hannu Kivimaa – SVP Finance in Metso’s Minerals Business Area. 

Managing uncertainties in financial steering 

The panelists shared various examples of actionable strategies that their organizations have implemented to improve agility, such as integrating external market insights into target setting, employing relative KPIs, adopting scenario planning and “Plan B” thinking, accelerating decision cycles and cadences, as well as embedding flexibility in performance management frameworks. Alongside process redesign, the panelists also emphasized the necessity of a mental shift to foster an agile culture driven by joint commitment from the organization. 

What about the “good old budgeting” that we so love to hate? “Budgeting is still here to stay”, agreed the panelists as well as the audience. Despite ongoing debates on its role and required effort, budgeting still holds its place in strengthening organization’s commitment in targets and performance management. Continuous effort is, though, being made to improve agility of the budgeting process. 

Integrating sustainability in business and financial steering 

Sustainability has been embedded to the core businesses of the panelists’ organizations, even before compliance started to tighten. This can be seen in e.g., certified and ethically sourced raw materials, environmentally friendly product offerings to cater for their customer demand, and monitoring sustainability related KPIs. 

Sustainability reporting is currently fragmented and complicated by various factors: different meanings of sustainability across value chains, evolving rules and regulations, and increasing investor expectation and customer demand. However, harmonization of sustainability reporting practices is not anticipated in the near future. Organizations are encouraged to lead in sustainability reporting by aligning sustainability with core strategy, ensuring data transparency capabilities, setting industry standards, and engaging stakeholders to meet with their various expectations. 

Leveraging Gen AI in the Finance function 

The emergence of the next advancement in transaction handling automation, fueled by Gen AI, is inevitable, but it is still challenging to depict the full scope of Gen AI’s transformative impact on business controlling processes. Finance departments that embrace the latest technology development proactively and rapidly will potentially see enhanced efficiency and decision-making quality in critical business matters.  

Business controlling teams are advised to continuously develop their competences to support management in both strategic and operational decision making. On the other hand, business controlling should understand both the impacts and possible risks of Gen AI on their companies’ offering and operations. 

Let’s continue the discussion on your organization’s development roadmap! 

We believe the energetic and insightful discussions have prompted all participants to reflect on their own organization’s capability development from the above perspectives. 

The aim of the Finance department is to serve as trusted advisors for business in making high-quality financial and business steering decisions. Therefore, we urge you to advance your organization’s development roadmap to become more agile in managing uncertainty, embed sustainability into the core business and steering practices, and utilize AI for improved decision making. 

For more information, please contact:

Markus Valoaho
+358 40 742 0262

Juha Martikainen
+358 40 756 4686

Le Thuy
+358 45 128 0058