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The CFO of the future – the effective change leader
The dynamic development of technology and business processes makes the role of the CFO a constantly changing one. The competencies of financial directors increasingly go beyond financial departments, making them the most important individuals in the company after CEOs.
The evolution of the modern CFO’s role was discussed during the Leadership Breakfast organised by Page Executive, with KPMG serving as partner.
According to a survey conducted by KPMG, half of financial directors believe that their role and its importance will be transformed. The same opinion is held by general directors – as many as 63% of CEOs managing companies in Poland believe that the role of CFOs will change significantly over the next 3 years.
Knowledge and soft skills
– CFOs are increasingly responsible not only for companies’ finances but also for other strategic issues and important initiatives related to the general operations of the entire organisation. These areas include IT, law, HR and procurement. They are also engaged in investor relations, shareholder meetings, business strategy development and key decision-making – states Paweł Wierzbicki, Page Executive. It is also important to point out that the financial director is increasingly expected to be involved in the development of the company's strategy and its execution. CFOs should already fixed or develop competencies in communications and change management. All this makes the CFO position an attractive career goal for professionals, one which provides them with great opportunities for professional development and guarantees job satisfaction – adds Paweł Wierzbicki.
According to the speakers, a modern CFO should add real value to the business. Among the most important competencies of CFO are the ability to work with stakeholders and seek compromise – whether with shareholders, financial institutions or regional markets. According to Violetta Małek, the director of KPMG in Poland, the CFO of the future is a person who goes beyond today's finance department.
– CEOs want to have someone who can really support the businesses they run. The CFO of the future should not only build a competitive advantage or streamline production processes but also create a climate of effective co-operation between the financial and business departments – comments Violetta Małek. In addition, according to the director of KPMG, the modern CFO is a leader who successfully manages business expectations and creates a culture of continuous improvement in the organisation.
According to KMPG research, about 2% of financial directors have ambitions to develop their career and take on the role of CEO. According to Krzysztof Rabiański, former CEO of Empik Media & Fashion, the largest companies, those listed on the stock exchange, offer the biggest opportunities for promotion.
– In such organisations, the responsibilities of the CFO are very wide, because in addition to traditional duties, the CFO communicates with investors; as the supervisor, he or she contributes to the financial strategy and is responsible for monitoring its execution. Therefore, he or she is more likely to seek a promotion – says Krzysztof Rabiański. In his opinion, current CFOs should also care about building their own personal brand. As he emphasised, only a conscious strategy and its successful implementation will ensure long-term success on the market.
From CFO to CEO
According to Paweł Wojtyło, former CEO of Eden Springs Russia, three things are worth remembering when trying to become a CEO. First of all, a strong and effective financial team should be built within the company, and the future successor to the CFO should be drawn from it. – When you leave the finance department, make sure that there is no gaping hole – says Paweł Wojtyło. Secondly, it is necessary to analyse the duties of the CEO and integrate them into our development plans. It is also important to consider what and how you would like to change the organisation. Thirdly, the whole process should be approached carefully and the desire for development should be communicated in a timely manner – not too early and not too late. You have to show that you are able to perform the tasks of the financial director without error for several years. It will be evidence that you’re ready for the CEO role. In Paweł Wojtyło’s opinion, it is also worthwhile to engage in projects that are not necessarily financially related, which would allow CFOs to acquire new competencies and present themselves in a broader light.
This year's "Leadership Breakfast" was the second edition of the meeting organised by Page Executive in Poland. Every year, the event gains more and more interest from CFOs; this time, 75 financial directors took part.