The future of the CFO set to be influenced by five factors

At the Real FD conference in March, Real Business observed the role of the chief financial officer and the power it has to influence the board, discussing the position and how it compares and differs to the CEO with veterans from the financial world.

The report from the ACCA and IMA now reveals that the future of the CFO will be influenced by economic volatility, risk, data, technology and talent, which are described as demands and activities that financial leaders will need to understand and act on in order to succeed.

Jamie Lyon, head of corporate sector at ACCA, said: “The external environment is going to be hugely challenging for CFOs. Certainly we can expect no let up on economic volatility, and there’s simply much more risk to deal with, but when you overlay this with challenges around transformation of business models and so on, it’s a difficult future terrain for most finance chiefs to support their businesses in striving for sustainable growth.”

Lyon emphasised the potency of data, explaining that it provides a “competitive advantage” to companies using the information. However, the challenge is said to be in discovering the data that will support the finance team to make the right commercial choices through tracking and reporting.

“Digital technologies will become a core finance leadership enabler in businesses. CFOs have a responsibility to ensure social, mobile, cloud and analytics become a strategic tool in driving change,” said Raef Lawson, IMA’s vice president of research and policy.

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Meanwhile, quality of talent is considered vital to success, but the trend of outsourcing finance activities places the “traditional finance career path at risk of becoming distorted.”

Lyon added: “One of the biggest questions facing the future CFO function is this: where will your future finance leadership talent come from? It’s a critical question, and businesses need to think very carefully about how they will develop the next generation of finance leaders.

“The assets needed to be a effective CFO have changed. In a customer centric economy intangibles such as data, brand, talent and innovation are central to helping businesses succeed. As the study shows, how CFOs embrace and adapt to these, is going to be really important in the future.”

Image: Shutterstock

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