Future of Finance

Will the finance function even exist in the future?

About the event

If we told you the prognosis for the finance function was terminal, would you be ready to change the habits of a lifetime? As a close observer of finance functions all over the world, PwC has realised that CFOs have to choose now: either resign themselves to a back-seat role and watch as their strength and status dwindle, or seize the wheel as the driver of business strategy and performance. We believe finance can stay in great health and flourish as never before. What’s the cure? Come to PwC’s Future of Finance Fair to find out for yourself.


8.45-9.15am Registration & coffee
9.15-9.30am Welcome and context speech by Gustav Baldinger
9.30-9.50am Future of Finance – PwC's point of view from Patrick Akiki
9.50-10.20am Future of Finance at ABB : Greg Vlasek, Global Finance Transformation Leader at ABB
10.20-11.30am Marketplaces: Innovative technologies and operating models for the finance function of the future
11.30-12.00pm Future of Finance at UBS: Angus Graham, Global Head of IBOR transition at UBS
12.00-13.00pm Lunch
13.00-13.30pm Future of Finance at SBB: Harald Döbele, Head of Corporate Controlling at SBB
13.30-14.40pm Marketplaces: Innovative technologies and operating models for the finance function of the future 
14.40-15.00pm Wrap-up
15:00pm- Coffee & drinks


Gregory Vlasek – ABB, Global Finance Transformation Leader

Since 4 years, Greg heads up the global Finance Transformation program at ABB and is responsible for significant change and improvements the function has gone through under his leadership. During his speech, Greg will share insights and learnings from the transformation journey and will talk about the initiatives he launched that led to organizational change, upscaling of skills/ mindset as well as improvements in processes and technologies.
Greg started his professional career in Audit and has more than 10 years’ experience in improving and integrating Finance operations from large multinational companies.

Angus Graham – UBS, Global Head of IBOR transition

Since January 2018, Angus has led the special project groups within Group Finance at UBS.  This includes being the Global Lead for all IBOR transition activity for UBS.  He is also a member of the LIBOR Oversight Committee for ICE Benchmark Administrators.  During his speech Angus will elaborate on how UBS is approaching such a fundamental reengineering of the financial markets, what is known and what still needs to be addressed by the Industry, and what all market participants need to be considering. Angus has been with UBS for over 20 years.  Prior to his current mandate he has held a number of roles including;  the Global Controller for the FX, Money Markets and Repo business,  Investment Bank Treasurer, and Corporate Center CFO.


Patrick Akiki – Partner Financial Services Advisory PwC Switzerland

Patrick is a partner at PwC Switzerland. His role as the management consulting lead in Switzerland includes the finance transformation practice. His core competences include large-scale finance transformations for tier 1 banks and insurance, including GL consolidation and EPM, post-merger integration and transition readiness, and transitional client support. In his address, Patrick will draw on his experience to focus on the finance function and the urgent and fundamental transformation it needs for survival. Prior to joining PwC Switzerland he worked for PwC offices and UBS around the globe, supporting global clients in their financial transformation, risk regulatory and technology projects.

Harald M. Döbele – SBB, Head of Corporate Controlling

Since February 2017, Harald leads the Corporate Controlling department of the SBB group and as part of the Finance leadership team he holds a key responsibility to transform the groups Finance function. During his speech, Harald will elaborate on how SBB approached the entire transformation journey, starting with defining the new Finance operating model related considerations. Before joining SBB, Harald held various roles in Finance and gained deep consulting and project management experience. In these roles, he was in charge of strategic change, process improvement assignments, internal audit and post-merger integration in internationally operating companies.

Gustav Baldinger – Partner and Head of Advisory PwC Switzerland

Gustav is a senior partner at PwC Switzerland with a focus on strategy and operations at Swiss-based and multinational clients. Since July 2018 he has been head of Advisory and leader of the Consulting Trade Industry and Services team. As a member of the PwC European leadership team for merger integration and carve-outs, he has extensive experience in leading large, complex change engagements, including several post-merger integration projects with a global span. In his address, Gustav will focus on the powerful disruptors putting the finance function under threat and the choices that today’s CFOs face in such an environment. Gustav started his professional career as a management consultant with Accenture and now has over 18 years of experience in delivering transformational consulting projects.

PwC's Future of Finance Fair Plan

Learn more about the booths

1. State-of-the-art enterprise performance management

Far too much of the effort that goes into the planning, budgeting and forecasting process doesn’t add value. Even worse, plans are typically outdated by the time they’re signed off. Finally we have the tools to solve this longstanding problem!

Thea Caminada
Advisory Director

Jana Moser
Advisory Manager

Frauke Schleer
Advisory Senior Manager

Why is planning still a problem in the 21th century?

If you look at the evolution of planning in recent decades you see that the focus has been on producing more detailed and accurate budgets and forecasts. This has resulted in a very granular and time-consuming, bottom-up planning exercise that typically isn’t flexible enough to take account of different scenarios. The more volatile and complex the market in which a company operates, the bigger this problem becomes. Changing the overall planning approach – being prepared to ignore certain levels of detail and live with plan data that can’t be drilled-down to the lowest level – means not only changing the process and technology used, but also shifting the mindset and skills of the leadership team and the controller community.

What’s the benefit of our approach?

The process and technology used in our solution equip finance to keep full control and transparency over the process, while allowing maximum flexibility to plan along scenarios. It shifts the controller’s role away from data preparation to discussing and challenging plans calculated using predictive analytics. Predictive analytics facilitates not only the planning process, but management reporting as well, as forecasts can be updated on a more automated basis without being dependent on a lengthy planning process.

How could things work better?

A planning process needs to incorporate what’s happening in a corporation, all the way from target-setting and considering different options that expand on the potential scenarios to adjusting plan data based on the outcomes of budget discussions. There are elements of the plan that can clearly be automated. PwC’s Predictive Analytics Suite (PAS) streamlines your operations by automating business management and planning activities. Applying AI and machine learning techniques, the PAS draws on a wide range of internal and external market indicators to effectively generate objective forecasts. Predictive analytics (statistical forecasting) has the power to provide baseline plan data instantly, and the resulting time savings can be used to define measures to reach the targeted ambition and speed up the overall process.

2. Siri for Accounting

PwC’s ara is a virtual assistant that provides answers to technical finance and accounting questions (e.g. IFRS), formulated in natural language, by guiding you through a dialogue process and decision trees.

Sezer Kula
Capital Markets & Accounting Advisory Services

Delia Beyeler
Assurance Senior Manager

Why PwC’s ara?

Answering technical accounting questions is time-consuming and leads to frustration because of a lack of transparency, guidance, and effective access to different sources of information (on- and offline) and expertise.

What’s the benefit?

PwC’s ara allows you to ask each question in one place to cover all the relevant areas of expertise. It interacts with you directly and immediately, and redirects you to an external (PwC) or in-house expert (contact person, accounting manual, accounting wiki, etc.) for complex and multi-disciplinary questions. You can download the history of each session and use it as basis for further discussions. PwC’ ara increases your efficiency and effectiveness with no barriers, no phone, and no email.

How does it work?

PwC’s ara is a virtual assistant that provides answers to technical finance and accounting questions (e.g. IFRS). The semantics of incoming questions (speech or text) are recognised using natural language processing (NLP) before an integrated dialogue manager concretises and formalises the query. PwC’s ara generates the appropriate answer based on specifically developed knowledge graphs and question-answering modules. All information and knowledge within the graphs is connected so that users can interact with them interactively. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the more frequently you use the system, the better and more precise the answers become. The solution is flexible and can be extended to include further and internal knowledge or integrated via interfaces.

3. Shift the paradigm with Reporting 5.0

PwC’s app-based Reporting 5.0 solution helps you provide the highly individualised reporting your stakeholders demand. It comes with a user-specific front end that learns as it goes, an integrated digital assistant, and an intelligent back end. This booth will initiate you into the mysteries of Reporting 5.0.

Vladimir Popov
Advisory TIS Manager

Daniel Hernandez
Advisory Assistant Manager

Stephen Strebel
Advisory Director

What’s the problem?

Your finance team is under increasing pressure to deliver. So:

  • You need to drastically reduce the money, time and effort required to create reports and gather data.
  • You need to be able to answer key business questions, without having to build a specific new report, by using Google-like report search and creation functionality.
  • You need to be able to use smart insights and pattern recognition based on machine learning to better understand which factors influence specific KPIs.
  • You need automated predictive technology to create automated forecasts, ad-hoc simulations and what-if analysis.
  • You need to be able to gain additional insight from usage tracking analysis to improve and optimise reporting.


What’s the solution?

We’ll show you how the advanced analytics and reporting technologies of the future that constitute Reporting 5.0 can already be applied to solve real client challenges.

What’s the benefit?

  • You can do smarter and more interactive reporting in real time, allowing faster and more accurate decisions by harnessing the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • You achieve end-user focus, providing users with clear information at the right time. You leverage the power of built-in search capabilities and smart discovery on the fly.
  • You get to understand business drivers and predict their impact. You can dive deeper and run simulations right from the boardroom with a 360° view of the business.


4. Move from outsourcing to digital business services

Digital business services (DBS) will run as a profit centre, looking for new opportunities to transform the existing business model by means of further optimisation or by creating new services.

Darioush Zirakzadeh
Advisory TIS Director

Charles Maguire
Advisory Senior Manager

Marc Lehmann
Advisory Director

Digital business services capture the evolution from a multi-function shared services operation to a global business services set-up where technology is used to further enhance the performance of shared service centres and develop new products and services. At the booth you’ll get to see client cases featuring Siemens, Wurth and Nielsen. The benefits to clients are new services, reduced costs and improved quality.

5. Process mining to optimize and automate Finance processes

Seamlessly automated end-to-end processes have the potential to increase efficiency by up to 75%. If you apply a mixture of various automation technologies and process optimisation methods, you can now achieve a situation where finance no longer needs human intervention in transactional processes. This will bring cost savings. But more importantly, it will finally enable finance to become a true performance driver!

Roderik Olde Kalte
Advisory TIS Senior Manager

Philipp Messner
Advisory Assistant Manager

Rafael Accorsi
Advisory Senior Manager

Christoph Fraune
Advisory Director

What’s the problem?

PwC helps clients truly optimise end-to-end finance processes with near-zero human interaction and digital delivery centres. Automation is taking centre stage in finance to deliver substantial efficiency increases across industries. Too often, however, automation initiatives are used merely as point solutions for isolated administrative activities. We will show you how to benefit from truly optimised processes that are fully automated end to end.

What’s the benefit?

Seamlessly automated Finance processes will liberate up to 75% capacity, bringing unparalleled savings potential, but maybe more importantly, it will enable Finance functions to re-invest capacity into delivering valuable business insights that give a true competitive edge to the company as a whole. Finance will finally have the means to position itself as a true performance driver.

How does it work?

We use Process Mining to quickly scan current state processes for automation potential within the current system landscape, through better configuration. We then assess all steps of the end-to-end process taking place outside of the main systems (a) to eliminate waste and (b) to identify potential for Robotics Process Automation. Finally we determine where centralization and/or outsourcing could bring additional benefits.

6. Reinventing the finance professional for a digital world

Two-thirds of all investments in technology aren’t sustainable because staff don’t change their behaviour. To drive digital change and make it stick, finance needs to focus on its people. At this booth you’ll see how we’ve helped clients build and implement their capability strategy and roadmap.

Sarah Kane
Advisory P&O Partner

Steffen Lange
Advisory P&O Director

Future success can only be achieved if the people and culture in finance organisations are ready to harness technology and the potential of digitalisation. So the future of finance begins with its people. To succeed in a digital world, finance professionals urgently need additional skills and capabilities and an entrepreneurial mindset. Besides feeling comfortable with disruptive technology, the finance people of the future will have to deal with a shift in culture towards broader collaboration with the business. If finance is to be a strategic business advisor, continuously challenging the status quo through innovation and agile ways of working, an entrepreneurial mindset will be key.

With talent so scarce on the market, the finance function needs to focus on reskilling and upskilling todays’ professionals while redefining strategic roles from mere reporting to predictive analytics. With PwC’s People Ecosystem we get you on the path to giving your people and culture a leading role in the finance function of the future, and show you how reskilling and upskilling can be implemented in your organisation.

7. S/4HANA and the next-gen ERP adventure

Never before has a product been mentioned so consistently: S/4HANA is on the agenda of most CFOs and CIOs. They’re asking questions like:

  • Why S/4HANA?
  • What’s the right deployment option (on-premises, cloud or hybrid)?
  • What’s the best approach (greenfield, brownfield or hybrid)?
  • When’s the best time to start the journey?

These questions can’t be answered in isolation; the overall ERP strategy needs to be clarified. At this booth we’ll be presenting client examples featuring cloud ERP, PwC’s Digital Boardroom and our point of view on how the business can get back in the lead with S/4HANA.

Jozsef Csoka
Advisory TIS Senior Manager

Albert Fässler
Advisory Partner

Muruganath Chockalingam
Advisory Director

Sven Stark
Advisory Partner

What's the problem?

Over the last decades, companies relied on IT to provide IT architectures that fit to their specific needs and business strategies. Following a period of business reengineering where businesses looked to optimize and harmonize processes built on SAP R/3, SAP activities over the years became more and more driven by IT with less interaction and engagement of the business; as a result, current IT architectures often lack the flexibility to meet the needs of the latest digital business models and modern ways to play of the companies. In the current evolving economy, organizations are focusing on adopting market standards and enabling innovation in order to capitalize on driving new business outcomes.  Organisations are exploring S/4 HANA to put business back in lead in such transformation initiatives.

What's the solution?

Best-practice / Best-of-Breed IT architectures have developed over the years according to different industry needs:

  • Consumer products and life science implemented highly centralized and standardized architectures to achieve revenue and cost synergy on global scale.
  • Industrial manufacturing favored decentralised, independently run ERP implementations, to differentiate on product needs
  • Automotive OEMs centralized cross functions but specialized in manufacturing according to site and competitive needs, aiming at cost- cutting to deliver competitive advantage.

Despite these different specific approaches, differentiation has been encouraged across all industries on what is termed the “Edge” of their ERP architecture, where cloud based plug and play and customized solutions can be best leveraged. Such differentiation is designed to be tightly integrated with a set of “Core” essential corporate capabilities where business standardization and operating efficiency are key adhere to common practices that have already been established within the industry. For their differentiating capabilities, which provide essential competitive advantage and require flexibility & speed, companies achieve industry leadership only by the means of superior, company- own best practices.


What's the benefit?

Transforming the business always involves large investments for resources and new IT, and in this way also enables the achievement of a variety of fundamental benefits. While realizing costs reductions in all areas of the business due to process improvement and asset effectiveness, an optimized IT landscape will additionally lead to reduced costs for operation and maintenance compared to legacy systems.

Furthermore, while transforming their architecture, companies are also able to grow their market share, increase the level of automation and make decisions more effectively. If planned wisely, S/4 HANA transformations support the business to realize a variety of improvements, lifting up the company to a completely new level of excellence.Outdated critical systems are replaced by standard software, best practices and leading edge technology, resulting in a simplified IT landscape. Product costs are calculated more easily, and profitability analyses are created by touch of a button. Managers use detailed real-time analytics and a new financial “Universal Journal” to know exactly what is happening in their company – whenever and wherever they want. All these aspects are supported by the consistency and integrity of key data provided by the new system as the business’ backbone.

These improvements will deliver significant business values across all domains of the company. In Finance, efficiency in controlling, accounting and planning is increased and data consistency improved. Due to a higher data availability, sales department can make advanced pricing decisions and get better understanding of customer needs.Because of consistent data, an improved understanding of production processes is achievable and weak points are more readily optimized, leading to higher cost transparency and lower product costs.Beyond being a critical technical upgrade, the S/4HANA transformation represents the foundation stone for the digital future, enabling companies to adopt advanced new technologies and become the digital leader in their competitive environment.

8. Future of finance powered by intelligent automation 

Simple robotics process automation (RPA) is pretty good, but there are even more exciting technologies out there just waiting to be discovered. At this booth we’ll be sharing the secrets of what we call intelligent automation.

Zack Tian
Advisory Data & Analytics Director

Angela Carpintieri
Advisory Director

Florian Estoppey
Advisory Senior Manager

What you will see?

In this booth you will see an Intelligent Automation journey - starting from simple rule based automation all the way up to autonomous intelligence leveraging AI technology.

This includes a demonstration of the potential of applying such solutions in Finance processes:

  • Generation of cost center report and send via email
  • Split report by function and send via email

Explore: The Intelligent Matcher

The number of unmatched journal entries stacked in suspense accounts may typically grow over time; this may be caused by inefficiencies in the closing process, polluted reporting data, incorrect overdue reporting and potential inaccurate credit limit calculations. Although multiple automatic functions are usually part of ERP systems to prevent this from happening, we still have seen that process inefficiencies and business complexities may cause high levels of backlog in reconciling these unmatched journal entries.

The Intelligent Matcher (T.I.M) is online software created by PwC for matching debit and credit amounts for suspense accounts. Curious about how this works? You will here this during our session at the booth.

9. Tax disruption

What do you do when the taxman gets superpowers?
How will you feel when the tax authorities know more about your business than you do? Uncomfortable! Tax authorities are digitising, investing heavily in new technologies that will radically transform their powers of control and oversight. As the subject of their supervision, you’re going to feel the heat.

Stuart Jones
TLS Senior Manager

Charalambos Antoniou
TLS Director

#TaxDisruption: are you ready for the new world of tax?

Digital technologies are moving out of the laboratory and into the real world; their impact on business models across the economy will be dramatic. Where there’s a change in business models, there will be an impact on tax frameworks, which will need to change to remain relevant. Tax authorities are investing in these same technologies. This investment will deliver them a huge productivity dividend over the coming years, fundamentally changing the relationship between taxpayer and tax authority. As subjects of their supervision, we will feel the heat of this tax disruption.

In this session, we’ll be sharing with you some of the things the tax authorities are doing and what we’ve learned in the course of helping our clients prepare for this new world of tax.

10. Technology Enabled Audit

Finance functions urgently need new ways of processing information more efficiently and gaining insight from data. Facing the same challenge in our role as auditors, we have developed state-of-the-art tools that harness the latest technology.

Michael Abresch
Assurance Partner

Michka Guerrier
Assurance Director

Kristina Prenrecaj
Assurance Senior Manager

Markus Perdrizat
Assurance Senior Manager

What’s the problem?

A tech-enabled audit uses new technologies and data analytics to provide high quality audits and insights. These insights can help your finance function drive its transformation.

At the booth we’ll be showing you two examples to demonstrate:

  • How our PCT Suite can help you optimise your operational and financial processes
  • How blockchain-enabled new business models, whether they involve the supply chain or the tokenisation of assets, require a new audit approach. We’ll show you what you need to know and how you can benefit from the lessons learned by PwC during the implementation of its blockchain audit tool.


What’s the solution?

We apply emerging data visualisation and analytical technologies to make audits more efficient and effective, at the same time providing you with valuable input.

What’s the benefit?

You can count on an audit tailored to take full advantage of your technology investments that will help you accelerate the transformation of your finance function

By embracing innovation and modern technologies, you’ll be able to unlock the full value of trusted partners within our audit collaboration. [or: unlock our full value as a trusted partner within our audit collaboration.


11. Immersion Session

An immersion session brings together the right people at the right time in the right place to merge physical and virtual worlds in a way that nurtures collaboration and co-creation. Workspaces to tinker, labs to experiment, war rooms to debate, and real-world studios where ideas come to life.

Samuel Wiedmer
Advisory Senior Manager

What is the problem?

The group had a program to roll out SAP on a global level and an SSC for the European Operations was established. Nevertheless, it was evident for the CFO that the way Finance works is very old fashioned "we work like in stone age". Altough the SAP rollout was well on track it takes long until all operations can use the new template and even then processes are not fully automated. 

What is the solution?

We tailored a full-day workshop for the specific situation and needs of the client. The CFO wanted the global Finance Director community and key Finance functional experts to become more aware of what is possible and develop the topics that should be priorities and launched.

What is the result?

We run a full-day workshop with 50 Finance practitioner at the group's yearly Global Finance Meeting. The day started with impuls session on nextGen Shared Services, Intelligent Automation and Artificial Intelligence for Finance. This was followed by 4 breakout sessions during which key priorities such as RPA, Planning and Reporting Process was analysed in terms of the current pain points, hypothesis building for its resolution where we included advanced technologies and was rounded up with structuring a roadmap that outlined who to approach the improvement initiative.


Contact us

Nadia Mouzo

Marketing Consultant, PwC Switzerland

Tel: +41 58 792 4247