The role of the CFO has undergone a profound change in the past twenty years. The historical tasks of the finance function such as maintaining books and records, financial reporting, and statutory compliance continue to be important and mission critical but are now seen as minimum requirements by CEOs.
Today's CFOs drive the direction and success of their organisations by using their knowledge and understanding of the financial position of the company.
The Key skills for the modern CFO:
· Leadership – To be an effective business partner, today's CFO must have the necessary leadership and communication skills. They must give advice and counsel as well as provide a voice of reason.
· Operations – They should possess a strong understanding of the company's business model and industry and be able to use this knowledge to constructively challenge the commercial and operations teams.
· Controls – In an increasingly volatile global environment, the CFO needs to ensure adequate assessment and mitigation of risk as well as compliance with regulatory and legal requirements.
· Strategy – Supporting strategic development and execution by prioritising and ensuring the strategy can be funded.
A CFO needs to be a visible leader in the business, an excellent communicator, and an influencer. A "seat at the table" must be earned by the CFO. They are business partners to the CEO and help guide and influence decisions by using their financial knowledge.
Forward thinking companies realise that Finance needs to be embedded throughout the business to allow effective decision support to key functions such as commercial, operations, and manufacturing.
Having access to timely and accurate data enables finance productivity and decision support. Automated reporting and analytics allow more time to be dedicated to forecasting analysis. Technology will play an increasingly important role for the CFO, but its effectiveness depends on the accuracy, availability, and consistency of data.
CEOs want "'more for less" from their finance function. The finance function is now increasingly being assessed in terms of its effectiveness rather than a narrower focus on its efficiency.