The Changing Role of the CFO

The role of the CFO is changing. With a unique, holistic view of the business, the modern CFO is breaking the traditional boundaries of their finance-based role to develop insight-driven strategies for growth. By identifying opportunities and providing strategic foresight, the CFO empowers CEOs to make data-backed decisions for the company at large. 

“In virtually every company we look at, the CFO is becoming the second most important C-suite executive. An effective leadership team depends on the CEO and CFO being a great double act.” 

—David Axson, Managing Director, Accenture Strategy and CFO and Enterprise Value, UKI 

As routine tasks are becoming automated, the CFO has the bandwidth to create more meaningful roles for their finance team. By leveraging disruptive technology, the CFO is becoming the strategic enabler within their organizations. In most business cases:

  • 81% of CFOs see identifying and targeting areas of new value as one of their primary responsibilities.
  • 77% of CFOs believe it’s within their duties to drive business-wide operational transformation. 

The CFO Evolution

  1. Finance teams are using digital tools to automate routine tasks to free up time for higher-level initiatives.
  2. CFOs and finance teams are using data to help organizations make more strategic and informed decisions around growth.
  3. Finance is empowering other functions and driving revenue at an enterprise level.

By taking advantage of technology tools, CFOs and finance teams are taking on the responsibilities of paving an efficient and informed direction forward for their organizations.

Challenges to Growth: Operational & Cultural 

Gathering data: CFOs are taking the lead in automating processes, which means collecting all the data at their disposal. The challenge? Value creation, improved compliance, and identification of future risks & opportunities.

“One of the biggest challenges is locating the right data. That’s what keeps me up at night.”

—Rubens Batista, Martins

Cultural Pushback: Another challenge is pushback from the larger organization. Thirty-eight percent of CFOs surveyed report that they worry about employee resistance to automating key business operations. Solutions to this challenge are:

  1. Identifying Test Cases: Looking across the organization for “quick wins” to build trust and prioritize digital investment.
  2. Connect With Other Departments: Find common ground across functions to optimize processes.
  3. Actively Monitor Investments: Ongoing evaluation of technology is critical to ensure relevance and value.
  4. Support Innovation: Foster a culture of achievement through innovation.

The Future of CFOs

As the role of the CFO rapidly advances, it is essential to not only develop analytical skills but collaboration-based skills as well. With such a quickly evolving role, it is easy to create a skill gap between the CFO and the rest of the financial team. But within this challenge lies an opportunity—automation of dull and mundane tasks means room to develop more productive and strategic roles for financial organizations.  

“The CFO still needs to be somebody that you can trust to cut through all the bias and be the honest broker in decision-making. What is different now is that even in financial areas, you have to be IT-savvy.”

—Larry Reinhold, Systemax