HR Management & Compliance

Financial Leaders Influence in HR and IT Expanding, Finds Study

For years HR professionals have struggled to gain a seat at executive table. New research shows that that trend works the other way too.

Financial leaders continue breaking the mold and expanding their influence throughout their organizations. In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, finance executives most frequently reported their roles have grown over the past three years to include more human resources (39%) and information technology (28%) efforts.

Finance leaders were asked, “In which one of the following areas outside of traditional accounting and finance responsibilities, if any, has your role expanded most over the past three years?” Their responses:


Human resources 39%
Information technology 28%
Operations 21%
Sales or business development 6%
Marketing 6%

View an infographic of the business areas where finance leaders’ roles have expanded most in the past three years.

“Financial executives’ positions involve playing many roles—part strategic advisor, part data scientist, part collaborator—in addition to their traditional responsibilities,” said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “They collaborate with human resources in areas as diverse as hiring and compensation, compliance, and organizational culture. They also pair with their IT counterparts on initiatives ranging from technology investments and systems implementations to cybersecurity.”

Deeper understanding of HR and IT has enabled financial leaders to address staffing challenges  by adopting a robust labor model, Hird added. “Accounting and finance departments rarely enjoy extra resources, and added work or major events, such as an acquisition or a large accounts reconciliation initiative, can set off alarms and panic,” he said. “In response, executives are using more comprehensive staffing strategies, including automating routine tasks so employees can focus on higher-value projects and working with managed services providers for access to specialized, scalable teams on demand.”

For additional insights on staffing strategies financial executives employ, see The Labor Model for Finance in the Digital Age from Robert Half and Protiviti.

Robert Half Management Resources highlights five skills today’s financial executives need:

  1. Leadership—Developing and retaining a talented team are top priorities for accounting and finance managers. Executives must excel in guiding their staff, including managing and motivating a multigenerational workforce.
  2. Collaboration—As their roles expand into nontraditional areas, financial executives can succeed only if they work well with colleagues in other departments.
  3. Communication—Financial leaders must be comfortable sharing information with diverse audiences, from entry-level staff to the CEO and board of directors.
  4. Technological aptitude—Financial executives don’t need to know all the tricks of new tools, but they should have an innate curiosity about them and a short learning curve.
  5. Change management—Change can be scary, particularly when it comes to work. Leaders must be able to share company news, good and bad, and what it means for their teams.

About the Research

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources and conducted online by an independent research firm. It is based on responses from more than 2,000 finance leaders from companies in more than 20 of the largest U.S. metropolitan areas.