Professional development

Types of finance awards: recognizing innovation, leadership, and sustainability in finance

Updated: June 25, 2024 |

Abbie Bowen

Technical Content Writer, Cube Software

Abbie Bowen
Abbie Bowen

A technical content writer and FP&A enthusiast, Abbie is passionate about building customer education that develops confidence and self-sufficiency.

Technical Content Writer, Cube Software

Types of finance awards: recognizing innovation, leadership, and sustainability in finance

The finance function is the backbone of any organization, ensuring financial stability and driving strategic decisions. Unfortunately, their hard work can sometimes go unnoticed amid the hustle and bustle of daily operations.

Luckily, numerous finance awards exist to recognize and celebrate the dedication and achievements of these invaluable teams, giving them the spotlight they deserve. Awards for Fintech software, leadership, teamwork, and sustainability highlight the achievements of thought leaders in the space who make financial success possible. Receiving one of these honors can also open new doors for teams looking to grow their talent pool and influence.

Today we’ll introduce some of the most influential finance awards celebrating innovation, leadership, and sustainability.


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The significance of finance awards

Finance teams do a lot of the heavy lifting in keeping an organization running. Through their diligent efforts in activities like budgeting, forecasting, and large-scale FP&A activities, finance leaders and their teams drive forward initiatives that help organizations stand out.

Finance awards help those unsung heroes shine, celebrating their efforts to propel innovative thinking, positive leadership, and sustainability within the finance sector. They offer professionals in the industry a benchmark to strive for and a standard for how finance teams should run.

Two of the most popular types of finance awards include:

  • Software-focused awards: These awards recognize the pioneering solutions and strategic foresight that move finance forward, pushing the envelope toward more strategic thinking and planning. 
  • Leadership awards: These awards recognize exemplary finance managers, controllers, and CFOs who embody vision and ethics within the industry. These awards motivate a culture of responsibility and long-term thinking. 

Finance awards, in general, encourage a small dose of healthy competition in a discipline that often escapes the notice of the wider organization or market sector. Plus, the motivation, credibility, and benchmarking that help teams collaborate and work better together also inspire individual contributors to push their skills and engage in more creative thinking.

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Innovation in finance awards

Innovation awards recognize groundbreaking projects, technologies, and financial reporting methodologies that make life easier for finance professionals. These awards look for standout software, techniques, or case studies exemplifying forward-thinking finance developers and planners.

Notable awards within this category include:

The FinTech Finance Awards

This FinTech Finance Awards recognize innovation in consumer banking, business banking, security, payments, data, crypto, and other emerging technology solutions.

Judges from across the finance sector recognize the best new technologies and ideas, including leaders from Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon, American Express, Mastercard, Wise, and more.

Note: The awards selection rested in 2024 and will return in 2025. 

Deloitte Fast 500 Fintech Awards

The Deloitte Fast 500 Fintech Award honors the fastest-growing technology companies in the financial sector, celebrating innovation, entrepreneurship, and rapid market growth. Recognized globally, this award showcases those at the forefront of transforming finance through cutting-edge technologies, making significant impacts on the industry's evolution. Deloitte also offers category recognition for other sectors such as life sciences, general technology, and energy tech. 

Finovate Awards

The Finovate Awards celebrate outstanding innovation in financial technology, recognizing companies that introduce groundbreaking advancements and solutions. The annual awards recognize 28 winners across investment categories such as alternative investing, UX, payments, and decentralized finance. Well-regarded within the fintech community, these awards highlight achievements across the fastest-changing sectors in finance. 

Leadership in finance awards

Leadership awards honor individuals and teams that demonstrate exceptional leadership skills in financial strategy, financial reporting, and beyond.

Leaders are selected based on their ability to drive financial performance and budgeting, exhibit ethical leadership, and influence positive change within their team or the larger industry. They are strong strategic decision-makers, focused on corporate social responsibility, and committed to a culture of inclusivity and mentorship within their organizations.

Notable awards within this category include:

FEI Financial Executive of the Year

Financial Executives International (FEI) is a membership network of financial thinkers and leaders who collaborate to drive forward the finance function within their organizations and beyond. FEI’s Executive of the Year award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to their companies in success, growth, and strategy. FEI recognizes U.S.-based CFOs or financial principals at private organizations or non-profits.

ABA Emerging Leader Award

Conferred by the American Banker’s Association, the ABA Emerging Leader Awards recognizes the upcoming generation of finance leaders and decision-makers who exemplify ethics and inventiveness in leading a healthy, functional banking institution. Recognizing young talent in leadership promotes the future of the industry and helps talented banking professionals gain recognition.

OnConferences Icon Awards — Top Finance Team Award

Executive leadership publication OnConferences offers annual awards for the 50 top finance teams, top 10 finance teams, and finance team of the year as part of its OnCon Icon award series. The annual awards highlight the achievements of talented and forward-thinking finance departments that help their organizations build better financial stability, growth, and market position. OnCon also offers individual awards in categories across several sectors. 

Sustainability in finance awards

Sustainable finance awards celebrate financial institutions and teams that integrate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles into their operations. By acknowledging efforts towards sustainability, these awards highlight the critical role of ethical investment and responsible banking in promoting environmental stewardship, social equity, and corporate transparency.

Notable awards within this category include:

Oxford University Greening Finance Prize

The Oxford Greening Finance Prize is a prestigious accolade that honors research and service initiatives that integrate environmental sustainability into corporate operations and investment strategies. This award highlights those leading the way in sustainable finance, encouraging others to follow in their footsteps towards a greener economy.

Business Intelligence Group Sustainability Awards

The Business Intelligence Group's Sustainability Awards recognize companies and individuals for their exceptional leadership in sustainability. These awards celebrate companies pushing forward practices and solutions that reduce environmental impact and promote social responsibility, showcasing the remarkable efforts of those leading the charge toward a more sustainable future.

The awards recognize businesses from SMBs to large corporations and non-profits, in categories such as Sustainability Initiative of the Year, Sustainability Leadership, Sustainability Product, Sustainability Service, and the Sustainability Hero (Executive) and Champion (Non-executive) categories. 

Sustainable Finance Summit Awards

The Sustainable Finance Summit Awards organized by Finance Montreal celebrate exceptional contributions to integrating sustainability into financial practices. Recognized entities demonstrate outstanding commitment to transforming global finance through sustainable practices, showcasing innovative strategies that merge financial success with positive environmental and social impact. These awards highlight the evolving landscape of finance towards more responsible and sustainable operations.

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Criteria for winning finance awards

As you can see, there are many awards recognizing the efforts of finance professionals in a variety of categories. The question is: how does one win one of these coveted titles?

Here are a few of the main criteria for getting noticed by awards committees:

  1. Innovation: Innovators offer groundbreaking ideas and pioneering solutions within the finance industry. This highlights those who challenge conventional models, integrate cutting-edge technology, and introduce novel financial products or services that significantly enhance efficiency, inclusivity, or sustainability in financial practices.
  2. Impact: Business Impact criteria assesses the tangible outcomes of a leader’s financial initiatives. It measures how they contribute to economic growth, societal benefits, or environmental preservation for their organization. Winners showcase innovative thinking but also demonstrate substantial positive change or progress in addressing pressing global financial challenges.
  3. Leadership: A winning leader’s approach emphasizes visionary guidance and the ability to inspire teams toward achieving groundbreaking results. It values those who lead by example, foster inclusivity, drive creative thinking, and possess the business acumen to navigate challenges while setting new benchmarks. 
  4. Sustainability: Modern leaders are encouraged to champion sustainable practices within their organizations. As a selection criterion, sustainability recognizes those integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into their strategies to ensure long-term economic viability and equitable social and environmental outcomes. Leaders judged on sustainability exemplify this commitment to a future where financial success is balanced with ecological stewardship.
  5. Performance metrics: Outcomes remain a primary selection criterion for finance awards, highlighting leaders who excel in financial management, growth, and efficiency. By quantifying achievements in revenue generation, cost reduction, and profitability improvements, these metrics showcase a finance leader or team’s financial guidance and its influence on the organization's success.

Tips for preparing a winning submission

Whether you’re creating a nomination for yourself or a deserving colleague, building a well-crafted submission increases your chances of success. Take the time and attention needed to fully highlight the contributions a finance leader or team makes in your organization’s success: 

Use these five tips to build the best nomination possible:

  1. Start early and plan: Begin the nomination process well in advance. This gives you time to gather the necessary data, reflect on achievements, and craft a compelling narrative. Planning ahead also creates time and space for feedback and revisions to strengthen your submission.
  2. Highlight unique contributions: Focus on what sets you apart from your peers. Detail innovative strategies, exceptional financial outcomes, or groundbreaking integration of ESG factors that demonstrate leadership and creativity in finance.
  3. Quantify achievements: Numbers are the proof of concept in a submission. Use specific numbers and percentages to quantify success in financial management, growth, efficiency improvements, and sustainability efforts. Concrete data makes your case stronger by showing measurable outcomes.
  4. Tell a story: Beyond numbers, weave a narrative that tells the story of challenges your nominee faced, strategies they implemented, and obstacles they’ve overcome. A compelling story can resonate with judges and humanize the submission.
  5. Include testimonials: When possible, include endorsements or testimonials. Social proof adds credibility and offers an external perspective on the impact of your accomplishments.

Benefits of winning finance awards

Whether for innovation, leadership, or team performance, people take notice when a finance team brings home an award. Beyond the glow of the spotlight, finance awards can offer many other benefits to companies: 

Professional growth 

Winning a well-known or prestigious finance award serves as a significant career milestone, enhancing your professional reputation and visibility within the industry. It opens up advanced career opportunities and offers new networking prospects with industry leaders and peers. The recognition that comes with a finance award fosters connections that lead to collaborative projects and further recognition.

Organizational advantages 

Winning a finance award can boost internal morale and shine a light on the finance organization's achievements. A well-earned accolade can be validating for the team, and even help highlight their efforts within the organization. 

Revenue benefits

A finance award may boost revenue as it expands external brand recognition and trust. This attention can attract new clients and help retain existing ones. Awards also position the organization favorably in competitive bids, potentially leading to lucrative contracts and partnerships that boost the bottom line.

Industry influence

Award-winners garner industry-wide respect. It gives them the visibility to set new benchmarks for excellence and influence best practices across the sector. Often, an award has marketing advantages, allowing companies access to outside publications where they can share their secrets to success. Such recognition not only showcases leadership but also contributes to shaping the future direction of financial standards and innovation.

Recruitment opportunities

Having a “best of” banner on a hiring page is never a bad thing. Winning a departmental finance award may make your company more appealing to top talent. It signals an environment of excellence and innovation, attracting professionals eager to contribute to a recognized leader. This recognition can streamline recruitment processes and improve the quality of your applicants.

Recent finance award-winners

These recent finance award-winners have been celebrated for their specific contributions to the industry and the larger financial community: 

Fintech Finance Award Winner: Zumo

Cryptocurrency is a wide and burgeoning space, so receiving recognition as a standout is exciting. Digital-assets-as-a-service (DaaS) company Zumo won the Fintech Finance award for best crypto company in recognition of its dedication to balancing digital assets technology against the carbon concerns of decentralized finance tech, celebrating the company’s promise of “a better planet for digital assets.”

OnCon CFO of the Year 2024: Isabelle Winkles, Braze

Braze CFO Isabelle Winkles enjoys the recognition of her industry peers as the recipient of the OnCon CFO award. The finance leader for the AI-powered customer engagement platform was excited to lead her organization in its financial success and set an example for strong female leadership at the forefront of FinTech. 

In Winkles’ own words, “Today I work on being an example for my own children and the next generation of leaders through mentorship and coaching and can only hope that is adding value to those with whom I interact on either a formal or informal basis.” 

The Greening Finance Prize: Mary Schapiro

The 2023 winner for the outstanding service category is  Mary Schapiro, Vice Chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero. Schapiro is also the Chair of the Climate Data Steering Committee and former Chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The Greening Prize celebrated Schapiro’s leadership in building a new global architecture for sustainability reporting, among her other work in driving forward sustainable finance. 

Schapiro said of her work, “By harnessing the power of capital markets in the fight against climate change, we can build a more resilient financial system and a healthy future for our planet. I am grateful every day to join colleagues around the world working to help us reach a more sustainable, net-zero future.”

Strive for stronger finance planning with Cube

Recognizing excellence in finance is a crucial part of progress, as it highlights and rewards the efforts of those leading the charge toward ethical, collaborative, and sustainable finance. These awards encourage innovation, help establish benchmarks for industry members, and accelerate the global transition to better finance work throughout the sector.

Pursuing these opportunities for your organization can encourage your teams and company to strive for excellence in its financial operations and practices. Want to build excellence into your FP&A software stack and empower your teams to perform better? Request a free Cube demo today. 

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