It’s been a life and career-changing year for many of us and it looks like the rollercoaster ride isn’t over yet. Business leaders find themselves perched on a peak, observing. It’s up to us now: are we ready to charge forward or are we hoping to roll gently backwards?

Re-reading ourPage Executive Eight Executive Trends, I see a clear intensification of many key elements we outlined prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

THE CHANGING ROLE OF THE CFO

Zooming in on the Transformational CFO trend, it’s clear that change was afoot long before the pandemic hit. The role had been evolving over the past five years in North America. Gone were the days when the CFO’s jurisdiction was limited to checks and balances. Companies were already demanding a spectrum of skills and competencies – from strategy to tech and soft skills – and candidates were migrating into the Finance sector from diverse backgrounds.

Fast-forward, and as companies and candidates grapple with an ever-changing reality, the role of the CFO is more crucial, complex and fulfilling than ever. So, what are the keys to success for a company and a candidate?

PEOPLE, NOT NUMBERS...

Today’s CFO wears many hats. He or she no longer works in a silo, but must straddle various departments: from strategy to sales, from the board to the back office. As the current health crisis challenges the way companies communicate with customers and employees, the CFO’s focus has shifted: Long term vision is essential, to project growth (and ensure survival). Today’s CFO must revise budgets and forecasts in an uncertain landscape, and savvy financial leaders need courage and foresight to identify opportunities that can differentiate a company from its competitors.

But it’s also about introspection. CFOs now help to build processes, establish key controls, and manage operational risk to satisfy internal and external audits, as well as regulatory exams… all while staff continues to work remotely.

COLLABORATION, COHERENCE AND COHESION

More than ever, CFOs need excellent communication skills. As remote work becomes the new norm, financial leaders are instrumental in ensuring a thriving, motivated workforce. From weekly video calls to monitoring workflow, reporting and risk management, the CFO is an ever-on and hands-on role.

Financial leaders must flex their digital muscle to keep teams connected and ensure the board receives comprehensive, timely reporting. Empathy is equally essential, along with excellent organisational skills. CFOs juggle loans, credit lines and financial aid from the government, and manage liquidity, cash flow, and net interest margins in an ultra-low interest rate environment. This takes courage, commitment and creativity.

WHAT THE NEXT CFO SHOULD KNOW

COVID-19 has taught us that we can never predict what will happen in the future. But it has also shown us that if we can survive the most surreal situation imaginable, we can adapt to pretty much any reality. Candidates looking to apply for a CFO position should be prepared to embrace a truly challenging, cross-cutting and dynamic role. The CFO of today might be the CAO… or even the CEO of tomorrow.

The sky’s the limit. And there’s no better place to see the bigger picture than from the top of the mountain.

If you are interested in reading about more Finance trends, click on the banner above to read insights from our finance practice partners from around the world where they share their observations about the trends in finance this year and what you should keep in mind for the future.

If you’d like to discuss the ins and outs of the Transformational CFO, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Paul Webster

Paul Webster
Managing Partner, USA
[email protected]

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