Trends to Watch in 2021

January 8, 2021

Happy New Year!!! Like many of you, I am relieved to say goodbye to 2020 — I have had my fill of all things COVID and am ready to move on to other endeavors! While I am realistic enough to know that we have a long way to go to get the number of COVID cases under control, the new therapeutics and vaccines are exciting prospects. I am feeling hopeful about the new year, so Happy 2021!!!

As you know, I am not one for resolutions, and embrace change as needed rather than waiting for the new year. I much prefer greeting the new year by studying the trends expected for the upcoming year as I begin to plan and set goals for myself and for PAISBOA. Here are some of the things I am thinking about.

The one thing we know for sure about 2021 is that the “new normal” is here to stay. 3 Things COVID-19 Changed in Education describes how school and the classroom will never be the same. Here are some changes that are likely permanent:

  1. Hybrid Education – the shift toward integrated (in-person and remote) learning is unmistakable.
  2. Hygiene (physical and emotional) is essential in education.
  3. Teachers will teach differently in the new model.

As many of us know, trends in higher education usually impact K-12 education a few years later. The College Stress Test describes 6 trends that will influence higher education in 2021:

  1. Leaders just might get real about the business model.
  2. Tenured faculty will face a squeeze.
  3. The traditional curriculum will be transformed.
  4. The three-year degree could be adopted.
  5. Sports will dominate the headline … for all the wrong reasons.
  6. Campus leaders will not be calling all of the shots.

I am particularly interested in the discussion about the higher ed business model, as independent schools must examine their own business model if they are to be sustainable. And speaking of sustainable, the role of the CFO has been evolving for the past few years.

How COVID is Changing the Role of CFO asserts, “The CFO is no longer simply the mainstay of financial stewardship but is a business leader within their own right, with a strategic and multi-functional remit that historically has been more the domain of the COO and, on occasion, the CEO.”

A Grant Thornton article referred to the CFO as the Chief Flexibility Officer after COVID 19 has transformed the role of the CFO to change agents and strategists. As you think about the changes and the strategies you will enact in the coming year, here are some trends that may inform some of your decisions for 2021.

Speeding Towards Transformation: 2021 Trends In Finance And Accounting that we should watch include:

  1. Automation will no longer be debated.
  2. Remote working will become the norm for finance teams.
  3. Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting will become more important.
  4. Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) becomes a finance accountability.
  5. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) will become a competitive differentiator in addition to being the right thing to do from a core values perspective.
  6. Upskilling is a call to action (communication, decision making, and leadership).

As we reflect on the unprecedented disruption of 2020 and look forward to the continuing transformation we will see in 2021, Five Lessons for CFOs as We Approach 2021 advises to build resilience and capitalize on future opportunities in the following ways:

  1. Financial discipline is not just for hard times.
  2. Don’t let uncertainty deter you from growth.
  3. Make cybersecurity a business-critical priority.
  4. ESG strategy is no longer for just the big guys.
  5. Invest in your employees.

You and your employees have access to a robust network of business officers, HR professionals, plant and operations professionals, technology teams, auxiliary programs professionals, sustainability advocates, food service teams, through your membership in PAISBOA. Join us every Monday at noon to share successes and challenges, get a reality check, have a therapy session—whatever you need. This time is your time!

We look forward to seeing everyone at the PAISBOA Purchasing Consortium Annual Meeting on Wednesday, January 27 at 9:00 am. You will receive your link to this virtual meeting shortly (you must register first), and we thank all of our PAISBOA Preferred Vendors for their participation in this signature event for all PAISBOA members. What a great way to meet some of our new purchasing partners and hear from our PAISBOA Preferred Vendors about new products and programs!

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