The role of the CFO has evolved over time but throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations realized just how much more it needs to change. The need for CFOs who only have the necessary strategic and financial analytical skills is becoming a thing of the past. Organizations need compassionate leadership, digital fluency and someone who prioritizes continued learning along with career development to create a high-performing finance team.
3 CFO Priorities That Modern Organizations Require
#1: Prioritize Culture Innovations
Organizations are changing the qualities they value when it comes to their CFO and it goes beyond traditional accounting and finance skills. CFO roles and responsibilities include communication – it’s an important trait to help be a more compassionate leader for the team. There was a drastic change as a result of the pandemic but current social issues, including Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Environmental, Social & Government (DE&I and ESG) efforts, also play a role. Displaying empathy and developing trust helps not only them but employees as well. The CFO needs to ensure that these standards are prioritized both from budget and cultural perspectives.
#2: Investments in Team Growth and Development Should Be a Critical Focus for CFOs
The technical skills a CFO has acquired are important, but organizations want more than that. With remote work being normalized, companies are no longer limited to hiring finance and accounting professionals within their zip code. They can narrow their needs and wants for the organization and look for a candidate who wants to grow their team and the company. With all the transformation businesses have undergone due to the pandemic, companies want nothing more than a CFO who goes beyond closing the books. They want someone who initiates transformation within the Office of Finance to enable effective and efficient financial planning while also becoming a strategic advisor to the business through value-added activities. Automation will help the corporate financial planning process and the finance team perform additional, value-added activities that in turn will add value to the organization.
A lack of development and growth opportunities often drives employees away from the organization. The CFO needs to advocate for technology that enables their team to grow and continue learning together while becoming a strategic voice for the organization.
“The pandemic accelerated workplace trends such as virtualization, the changing pace of work, and the integration of new automation tools. Moreover, business transformation took hold in almost every corner of the business.” – Deloitte CFO Insights— What Companies Want From a Post-Pandemic CFO
#3: Acquiring and Encouraging Digital Fluency Skills is Imperative
CFO priorities have shifted with the new technology that has further developed in recent years. In order for businesses to be “always-on”, they need a finance leader who is tech-literate and has knowledge of different platforms and virtualization tools. Only one-third of finance leaders agree that their teams have sufficient competencies required for a digital finance function. This goes back to organizations providing the resources for employees to grow and learn in the workforce.
Digital fluency can be acquired by building a team with diverse backgrounds. A change in background means the candidate could be outside the typical job roles organizations usually look at. It could also mean they are simply coming from a different industry. Diversity has always been wanted and needed but now companies are really pushing for it when hiring and the CFO should display that same commitment.
CFOs don’t have the same priorities they did 20 years ago, they are now expected to do more than budget and ensure the books are closed. Digital fluency, for example, will help every financial leader and it will benefit the entire company. They need to be involved in strategy and all areas of the company – in other words, well-rounded in the entire business. Organizations are looking for someone with compassion for their employees as well as good communication skills that foster an environment for development and growth. Additionally, it is critical that CFOs advocate for their team and bring in the resources and technology to help the business grow.
Learn more about the evolving role of the CFO and how you can adapt by downloading this eBook.
Written by: Isabella Delgado