As we continue to facilitate collaboration and discussions between the finance leaders of today, I have earned a fascinating glimpse into the thinking of today’s CFOs with regard to the scope of their responsibilities, as well as their roles in shaping and developing the next generation of finance leaders.
Based upon the outcomes from our peer discussion activities, it is clear that the CFOs of today continue to evolve, providing them with increasing responsibilities and opportunities for direct impact on the top and bottom line of their companies. Alongside their traditional mandate to provide financial insights and analysis, CFOs of today have a greater involvement in supporting and even developing strategy, guiding key business initiatives, and maybe most importantly, training and developing the next generation of finance leadership.
Much of the traditional CFO role will remain in place, as CFOs of today (and tomorrow), will still need a firm grasp of finance fundamentals and most will continue to originate from a finance background. However, it will be those CFOs who can demonstrate experience in key areas above and beyond core finance who will move ahead of the pack.
The ability to lead diverse teams, give commercial insight, lead major projects and build trusted relationships with internal and external stakeholders are skills that will set the best CFOs apart. With some room for debate and some differences of opinion based upon the industries, geographies, and business life cycles their companies reside in, our CFO Alliance Members believe that:
- CFOs of today must continue to strengthen relationship with the CEO, as well as with the other members of the C-Suite. CFOs have an important role to play not just in developing corporate strategy, but also supporting and executing it.
- Although core skills in finance remain the foundation for CFO leadership, experience outside finance — in operations, sales, marketing, and technology, is of increasing importance for them and the next generation of CFO leadership.
- Developing a strong team is important, cultivating the skills of the next generation of financial leaders is an ongoing process, and giving the next generation of finance leadership a variety of experience is important.
CFO, Mike Pratt, (a CFO Alliance Board of Advisor Member, and recent Washington Business Journal Lifetime Achievement Award Winner) offers a viewpoint shared by most of our members:
“A person can come straight out of public accounting and become a pretty good CFO for a company that has all the various regulatory issues…You need to have technical capabilities and you need to have people skills. You need to be a much greater generalist when it comes to understanding business, and in order to be a valuable part of the management team that runs these companies, you need to have operating experience.”
If you are interested in joining The CFO Alliance, visit their website at https://thecfoalliance.org/