"Just two words: scenario planning."
If the iconic 1967 movie "The Graduate" were remade today, Mr. Robinson would whisper this career advice to Dustin Hoffman's college-graduate character (recast as an accounting major) instead of "plastics" -- especially if the graduate had visions of one day becoming a CFO. Once Hoffman's rising finance manager reached the CFO seat in 2030 or so, it seems a safe bet that scenario planning would qualify as a defining organizational capability and one of his most valuable individual skills.
What other risk management skills and capabilities -- and lessons -- can we glean from looking ahead?
Judging from current trends, the management of emerging risks (by taking into account relatively new dimensions such as a risk's velocity and potential duration), human capital investment and risk analyses, sharper vision deeper into supply and demand chains, and an even more comprehensive and integrated approach to enterprise risk management (ERM) appear destined to qualify as must-have organizational capabilities 20 years from now.
Forward-looking finance and accounting professionals should seek out opportunities to strengthen these skills and capabilities -- especially scenario planning -- in the coming years. After all, the purpose of scenario planning mirrors one of the increasingly important mandates of the corporate finance and accounting function: helping organizations prepare for an unknowable future.