Tackling the global finance challenge

Simon Bittlestone - Managing DirectorSimon Bittlestone, Managing Director

Our seminar last week, with David Barker, Group Financial Controller of WPP, was a resounding success, with over 75 FCs, CFOs, FDs and finance professionals joining us for a fascinating morning of discussion about the challenges of global management, the future of the finance team, and analytics technology.

The seminar gave the audience the opportunity to ask David a number of in-depth questions about the past, present and future of the world’s leading marketing communications group. One of the most striking features of David’s responses was his explanation of WPP’s focus on “horizontality”, orientated around improving client service and the capabilities that it offers to its client base.

Just as striking was David’s explanation of how WPP Group effectively manages the financial performance of over 4,000 reporting entities to achieve bottom line targets, present a coherent picture to the market, and keep the business trading at a premium.

To facilitate this detailed understanding of financial performance across the organisation, management have invested in an analytics solution that provides clear visual insight on success-defining  metrics, including productivity, revenue conversion and growth. David also spoke at some length about the emerging challenges for global businesses, and how senior finance teams can help their organisations to rise to these.  Particularly interesting were his remarks on the place of technology.

David stressed that an ability to use and understand the potential of analytics technology is becoming ever more important for finance professionals whose task it is to manage complex businesses in highly competitive markets. David also posed a challenge to the analytics sector: To  develop accurate predictive forecasting algorithms, capable of modelling unpredictable client decisions, and accounting for the subjectivity of management projections.

In uncertain times, finance teams have a vital role to play in helping their businesses achieve sustainable success. In order to respond, knowledge sharing and collaboration within the finance community becomes ever more important and the Tomorrow’s CFO seminar series continues to play an important part in that.


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