“The more the issues of finance, cost discipline and meeting shareholder value rise in importance, the more we will see the CFO become regarded as the most important individual in the corporate hierarchy.”
Andrew Kakabadse, Professor of International Management Development, Cranfield School of Management
No one expects the top finance job to be easy. When problems get to the CFO’s desk, they are inherently difficult ones — otherwise they would have been addressed earlier.
Nevertheless, as organizations look ahead to an uncertain future, the responsibilities of the role will only increase.
Finance forte provides insight on the future of the CFO role and what current CFOs, aspiring CFOs and boards need to do to keep up.
The study is based on a survey of over 530 Group CFOs and their reports across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, as well as a series of in-depth interviews with leading CFOs and future finance leaders from across these regions.
At a time when the importance of the CFO role has never been greater, the focus on cultivating the pipeline of future finance leaders needs to catch up with the role’s evolution.
The future of the top job
Few jobs today can rival the CFO’s role in terms of breadth, influence and profile. Indeed, the CFO is now arguably the most influential role in the organization, particularly at a time when economic uncertainty continues to cause unpredictable demand, capital availability and cash flows.
In light of this role stretch, two-thirds of survey respondents agree that the title "CFO" is inadequate. And while only one-third of respondent organizations currently have a deputy CFO, the majority believe that the increasing complexity of the role will mean that more organizations will appoint one.
Seventy-two percent of respondents agree the breadth and profile of the CFO role makes it a more attractive career aspiration. Yet there are also concerns that the pool of individuals with the appropriate skills and experience to succeed in the position is not sufficient.
Seventy-three percent of respondents agree that very few people in their current finance organization have the broad skills required to succeed as Group CFO.
Those leading CFOs we spoke to do not believe that there is a lack of talented finance professionals. Instead, a number point out that structural changes within the finance function may limit the opportunities for talented candidates to develop the right experience for the top job.
In view of this, they argue that formal identification and development of talent is critical to ensure that there is a strong pipeline of candidates with the right credentials for the role.
Percentage of respondents who either strongly agree or agree with these statements