1. They lead a broader, more diverse team
Over the last five years, the remit of the CFO has evolved and broadened significantly. Today, CFOs often preside over a hugely diverse team of specialists, from investor relations, to procurement, to sustainability and data analytics. While some of these specialisms may have reported into the CFO five years ago, this diversity has accelerated hugely in recent years, and we can anticipate it accelerating further over the years to come. This is one factor influencing the growth in importance of softer skills and emotional intelligence.
2. Softer skills have become more important
As the CFO’s remit broadens, so too does his or her influence over strategic decision making in the board room and more CFOs are playing a very proactive role in driving organisational change. The “soft” side of leadership has increasingly come to the fore in the last number of years as CFOs seek to understand and engage a team with diverse skills and thinking styles, while collaborating and influencing across the C-suite.
3. Shift from short-term performance to long term value
The shift from driving short-term financial results to delivering longer-term value to a wider group of stakeholders has been gathering pace over the last five years or so; however, the prominence of sustainable growth has hit the mainstream in a bigger way this year. The CFO has become the steward not only of financial performance, but also the custodian of value delivery across a range of areas, including community, the environment, society, employees and shareholders. And this will accelerate much more quickly over the five years ahead.
4. Technological advancement
While five years ago, it’s likely the majority of CFOs hadn’t meaningfully interacted with emerging technologies including AI or robotics, tech-enabled transformation has become one of the biggest priorities for CFOs in organisations of all sizes. As efficiencies are created and finance functions adapt their talent models and effectively embed technology, the CFO and CIO are likely to become increasingly aligned over the years ahead.
5. Learning, learning, learning
The last five years have required CFOs to adapt how they think, lead and operate their functions, as well as learning entirely new disciplines that simply didn’t exist in their roles before. While it can appear overwhelming, it’s an exciting time to be a CFO with huge opportunities to learn and develop.
Over the coming weeks, you’ll be hearing more from the EY team on all of these areas as we gear up for our CFO Forum on March 25. Stay tuned for insights on the evolving, strategic role of the CFO, delivering sustainable value and transforming the finance function.