DNA of the CFO: As the CFO role blurs, how can future finance leaders find focus?

4 minute read 8 Feb 2019
Authors

Tony Klimas

EY Global Performance Improvement Finance Leader

Focused on bringing the best we have to offer to CFOs and other finance leaders.

Myles Corson

EY Americas Financial Accounting Advisory Services Markets Leader

Supporter of finance leaders and functions of today and tomorrow. Global citizen. Podcast host. Curious mind. Father of two energetic boys.

4 minute read 8 Feb 2019
Related topics Finance Innovation Advisory

Show resources

Standfirst heading

Standfirst body

Ambitious CFOs will need to embrace uncertainty and take calculated risks in their career planning and how they build their personal brand.

Strengthening innovation and creativity in the CFO role

A relatively recent evolution of the CFO’s role has been the need for innovation and creativity. They are being asked to find innovative solutions to key business issues, such as designing and delivering new digital business models – and this at a time when regulatory scrutiny and the need for proactive risk management is increasing.

CFOs have always had to find the right line between risk and reward. However, achieving the right balance between the two has become more delicate yet less distinct, as CFOs have become more involved in strategy development and driving growth.

Finance officers also need to be more imaginative and adaptable in how they manage their own careers, which also involves greater risk. Acknowledging, addressing and cultivating this innovation dimension of the means thinking and planning differently about the career path, which includes taking more calculated risks. Finance leaders need to identify, welcome and leverage different perspectives from outside the function, globally and across sectors.

Among the sample of 173 finance leaders at large organizations (with annual revenue greater than US$5b) in our survey:

  • 64% have “worked in more than one sector”
  • 53% have “significant experience working in different international environments”
  • 43% have “significant business experience gained in roles outside finance”

What constitutes finance leadership is becoming more diverse, as incumbents respond to a range of pressures, from digital to data. As a result, it is now more likely than ever that the career development path to a senior finance role will flex and shift, based on variables that include market context, personal ambition and the expressed or implied expectations of key stakeholders in the process, such as CEOs to supervisory boards.

Summary

The road to the modern CFO appointment curves more than ever, and creativity – a quality that may have once been discouraged – along with innovation and imagination will be key tools for getting there. To learn more, download part 3 (pdf) of our three-part DNA of the CFO report.

About this article

Authors

Tony Klimas

EY Global Performance Improvement Finance Leader

Focused on bringing the best we have to offer to CFOs and other finance leaders.

Myles Corson

EY Americas Financial Accounting Advisory Services Markets Leader

Supporter of finance leaders and functions of today and tomorrow. Global citizen. Podcast host. Curious mind. Father of two energetic boys.

Related topics Finance Innovation Advisory