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The future CFO has to be everything at once

The future CFO has to be everything at once

”Finance is worst at deploying new technology and developing people”, says Mark Tucker, KPMG’s national Lead Partner for Finance Transformation. However, being tech-savvy and good with people are a future CFO’s top qualities.

As the world’s operating systems are being rewritten, chief officers are put under new pressure. In today’s corporate whirlwind, flexibility and diverse experience overrule rigidity and specific know-how. Organisations are transforming into more customer-centric businesses. Marketplaces are busier and more tailored to the needs of customers. 

“Big data, emerging technologies and changing workforce demographics among others are shaping the role of finance. Finance functions have been looking to transform for a long time, but haven’t been able to”, says Mark Tucker. 

According to KPMG International’s 2015 report “The view from the top”, a majority of surveyed CEOs believe that the CFO’s role has increased significantly and will continue to do so in the future. Still, many CEOs didn’t believe their CFOs are up to taking on the new responsibilities.

The future CFO is a triple threat

A modern Chief Financial Officer needs to wear several hats at the same time instead of focusing solely on finance functions. CFOs’ skill sets need to include consulting skills, broad understanding of business, flexibility, and customer-orientedness, Tucker says.

The era of the Renaissance CFO is here. According to KPMG’s report, a CFO’s future position can be broken down into strategist, predictive analyst, and operational wizard. Firstly, the main focus should be on numbers – that is performance and growth – while still understanding the changes in the marketplace and their potential effects on the business at hand.

Secondly, a CFO should be a data expert. A big opportunity in this new role lies in translating data, both financial and non-financial, into concrete information that helps business leaders and execs make better decisions. Financial data analysis is a priority since in the best case scenario it leads to profitable growth and new operating models.

Thirdly, there’s as much value in operating experience as there is in a background in finance.

“The ability to bring different skills to finance is very important. The right experience doesn’t mean just finance qualifications, but broader business qualifications. These new roles require more commercial skills and making sense of data from different sources”, Mark Tucker says.

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