Globalisation and increased economic interconnectivity, coupled with rapid technological development, are profoundly changing the face of business. While their implications differ across industries and markets, what is consistent is that business finance leaders everywhere are wrestling with what these changes mean for their firms today and in the near future.
As the global economy becomes more interconnected, firms are increasingly looking to the rich opportunities the emerging markets present – whether it is to source, manufacture or sell their products and services, or to originate and place investments. Likewise, emerging market firms are becoming more global, expanding their influence and operations regionally and internationally, through organic and inorganic growth initiatives.
Technology and digitisation are also transforming business models, products and services in many sectors. The range of new revenue opportunities is broad and revolutionary – from products based on the wealth of new data available, to subscription services replacing the very concept of private ownership. Technology is not only changing what consumers demand, and how they purchase and pay for products and services, but also how firms develop new revenue streams and forecasting methods to effectively manage treasury operations within the new paradigm.
These drivers are resulting in far-reaching changes in the way firms conduct business across industries. In our interactions with clients, a key trend we are seeing is a shift towards greater collaboration both within, and between different sectors. Firms are joining forces and forging new partnerships in order to access new markets and expertise, or to protect themselves from new competitors. Traditional competitors are teaming up for greater leverage or to find industry-wide solutions to new problems. Firms operating in what had previously been considered unrelated sectors are forming partnerships to bring together their experience and expertise, or to access exciting new technology. Some partners bring an established client base, while others bring the latest technology developments. Add the need to actively manage these new collaborative relationships to an already active M&A agenda, and the role of finance executives becomes even more critical, as they assess opportunities, integrate operations and manage the ongoing finances of the combined organisations, products and projects.