The life of a Chief Financial Officer has never been easy or simple. If one thing is obvious, it’s that the role is getting tougher. While traditional elements of the CFO’s responsibilities remain relevant today, there are new forces at work to which CFOs in all industries need to adapt.
Evolving digital technologies: CFOs need to be aware of and understand the impact of new technologies right now and also in the long term.
Delivery of data analytics: Increased computing power and better data means a greater reliance on and importance being attached to analysis. This information and the understanding of it is critical to CFOs of the future.
Managing risk: It’s not only traditionally risk-focused industries that need to pay attention to the risks out there (e.g. Insurance, Oil & Gas etc). Strategic, reputational and cyber risks are the concern of all companies – of all CFOs – and an increasing amount of time will be spent on assessing these.
Stakeholder scrutiny: From shareholders to regulators, managing stakeholder scrutiny is a juggling act. Building relationships will be key to success, as well as delivering the information demanded by stakeholders.
Faced with a world which is constantly changing, CFOs need to create an environment and develop a mindset which encourages innovation. So what does this look like?
Here are a few starting points …
Build in time to think: You can’t innovate, or even identify areas where you need creative thinking, if you’re always fighting fires. Allocate time dedicated to thought and proactive measures, rather than taking reactive steps too often.
Build a team of people who have skills to complement yours: With a team you can rely on, you can confidently delegate tasks, freeing yourself up to focus on the bigger picture.
Develop the confidence required to be the public face of the company: Analysts, shareholders and regulators will be seeking information and reassurance from you. How do you come across?
Gain fresh perspectives and continue learning: Engage in reverse mentoring and find out what’s happening at the coalface of your organisation. Speak to people you don’t normally get a chance to engage with – you never know where the next big idea will come from.
Keep moving! Movement begets creativity, as shown in this published study. Get moving, encourage your people to do the same and keep up with the pace of change.