The role of the journalist once revolved around making phone calls while puffing on cigarettes (indoors!) and typing away on typewriters. Today a journalist is expected to not only carry out interviews and write articles, but to be active on social media, produce blogs and interact with readers using audio and video as well; similarly, the role of the CFO is also experiencing that kind of evolution.
As KPMG writes, we have now entered the age of the Renaissance CFO. KPMG’s report “The view from the top” states that those who become CFOs today are expected to be leaders and influencers, and have a global reach while “leveraging financial data and analytics to achieve profitable growth, capitalizing on a dynamic regulatory environment and nurturing and acquiring top talent.”
Such responsibilities hint at some of the challenges that CEOs see today in the evolving role of the CFO. While the bar is set high–63% of CEOs say that the CFO will become more important in the next 3 years–confidence levels from CEOs are on the other hand low: almost one in three CEOs think that their CFO isn’t ready for the challenge ahead.
What this means is that if CFOs want to fulfill their business and leadership duties they need to develop certain characteristics to become successful.
For starters, an embrace of their leadership role beyond finance is paramount for today’s CFO. As a report by EY puts it in a recent report:
Based on our research, it is clear that the CFO role at today’s leading companies is evolving. Alongside their traditional mandate to provide financial insights and analysis and insights, CFOs describe a greater involvement in supporting and even developing strategy, guiding key business initiatives.
A Shift In Attitude and an Embrace of Technology
To develop and share the strategic insights their organizations expect from them, CFOs need to also embrace the kind of technology that helps with the busy work and frees time for more analysis-heavy processes.
A survey of financial executives profiled on iTWire showed that CFOs are becoming much more comfortable adopting things like cloud computing and financial software where it makes sense.
“CFOs want more insights into their business than simply broad stroke profit and loss numbers. Tools that provide greater understanding of nuanced performance metrics such as business unit performance, customer lifetime value, and churn will also be part of the CFO’s top technological investments over the next 18 months.”
Adopting technology to meet increasing demands makes a lot of sense. Only by embracing technology that offers greater analytical capability and numbers they can trust, will CFOs really understand their business. By applying data in insightful ways and gaining an understanding of every metric in their business CFOs are now able to communicate with, persuade and motivate their team while providing the business value organizations expect from them.
That sounds a lot like the perfect Renaissance CFO to me.
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