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Back to the future: The Asian CFO in the New Normal
Asia has dominated headlines for the past few months as companies around the world tune in to the region to see what might happen next. As a global trendsetter and innovation pioneer, Asia is an epicentre for international companies and candidates who want to stay ahead of the curve.
Through the lens of our Page Executive Eight Executive Trends, and as the region settles into the new normal, let’s glance at what the future might hold for CFOs in the region.
STEERING THE SHIP
In Asia, today’s CFO can no longer shut his or her office door (even remotely) and quietly juggle numbers. Even before the pandemic, financial leaders were evolving to become direct deputies to the CEO, advisors to the board and team leaders. As the new normal becomes the here and now, CFOs must adeptly manage costs and cash-flow, communicate clearly and offer strategic advice as companies cautiously look forward.
GEARING UP FOR GROWTH
It may not be business as usual, but many Asian markets are revving back up. China leads the way, and Singapore is getting “back” to normal. While some countries within South East Asia and India still have tight social distancing measures and border restrictions, we see improvements and a path forward.
As they glimpse new growth opportunities, Asian companies are keen to hire and develop local talent. They’re seeking strong, commercially savvy, strategic CFOs with regional and international exposure and digital prowess. So, as more Asians return home due to the COVID situation, they’re finding companies in need of forward-thinking, data-driven leaders who can drive transformation.
FROM ACCEPTANCE TO ACCELERATION
Consumers and employees in Asia – especially in China – are accustomed to digital transformation when it comes to how they live, work and shop. In emerging markets like Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia, the pandemic has instilled a new level of acceptance and appreciation for digital tools.
National governments are encouraging companies to adopt digital strategies and to ensure better communication. Work-life balance is also becoming a hot topic and the CFO has a central role in steering growth while motivating and engaging teams that work remotely. People in Asia often spent an hour or two commuting to the office, and the rise in remote work, has removed this pressure, but it has also created an “always-on” work culture. CFOs must carefully balance expectations with empathy.
FROM PROFITS TO PROGRESS
Companies and candidates in the region must be agile and focus on purpose, as well as profits. Tomorrow’s CFO will be called upon to use their data-smarts to make decisions, but also to prioritize employee engagement and customer experience. It’s an exciting and exuberant time to be a CFO in Asia, and one in which a finance director has the opportunity to make a difference across all levels of a company.
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