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The four forces disrupting the CFO role

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As was suggested by Tony Klimas, global finance performer improvement advisory leader at EY, it’s become a job that may be too big for any one individual to do well. “This is largely due to all the responsibilities and the incredible contrast between the day-to-day tactical controllership functions, and the very long-term, strategic, executive functions,” he said.

And there are four culprits, in the eyes of EY, that are placing higher expectations on CFOs.

(1) Digital disruption

To help businesses profit from digital opportunities, CFOs like Gemalto’s Jacques Tierny are striking a balance between innovation-led growth and risk management. They are collaborating with colleagues to develop their understanding of how the technological landscape is evolving and what strategic investments are needed.

Tierny explained: “With financial communication, the world has changed. In a tech company, the investors know the business deeply. They have talked with suppliers, they have talked with clients, and so on in the eco-system. They know if there is a threat to the business and they are able to criticise our strategy and contribute interesting points. What these guys tell me is very helpful for my operational colleagues. It’s not only preaching to investors, but listening and coming back home with the message.”

Meanwhile, Jonathan Blackmore, EMEIA risk leader at EY, suggested that as we move into the new world of technology, data-driven insight will play an important part in making better risk-based decisions quicker.

“This is because you can use data from multiple sources either to look for trends or predict potential risk events,” he said. “In the future, that will be a key trend, because there is so much information available that you can begin to correlate different data sources to build up patterns and trends.”

(2) Data

“Data science moves us from the accounting role of reporting the past to the finance role of guiding the future,” explained Kelly Wong, CFO at KIDO Group. “I think that’s one of the most exciting things I’ve seen happen in finance in many years.”

She’s not the only one. Some 57 per cent of CFOs believe delivering the data and advanced analytics for business intelligence and management information will be a critical capability for tomorrow’s finance function.

Read more on analytics:

And CFOs are ideally positioned to define a role for themselves and the finance function that goes beyond finance-related data analytics. “There’s no doubt that CFOs need to be a champion and driver for the use of analytics in all current core financial processes under his or her remit today,” said Chris Mazzei, global chief analytics officer at EY. “But you can start to extend out from that. Financial data, as well as other data, is a key input to many other business decision processes, whether it’s procurement, supply chain, operational-type decisions, or risk management-type decisions. The CFO can be a driver of the application of analytics in many of those areas.”

Read more about risk and stakeholder scrutiny.

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