The role of the Chief Finance Officer is rapidly changing, led by the digitalization of information systems, automation and robotization. Guardian of the company data, the CFO has an increasingly strategic influence and has to support growth, handle technical complexity and ensure cost control while accompanying the technology breakthrough. Companies have to be faster and to become more agile.
Within this context, what will the CFO of the future look like? Which skills will he have to master? Let’s paint a picture of a key position experiencing a full renewal.
1. The CFO must democratize innovation within the company
The CFO of the future must be the ambassador of innovation within his structure: new technologies, starting with artificial intelligence, are an unavoidable change already embraced by the most innovative companies. These new solutions will allow decision-makers to gain intelligence and speed, necessary assets to remain competitive in a fast-moving market.
2. The CFO must become a data wizard
Tomorrow, data will replace transactions at the heart of the company. In a recent study, Accenture Strategy estimates that 90% of the CFO’s time and efforts will be spent on data by 2020. Only about 3% of organizations reached this stage.
In 2020, the Chief Financial Officer will merge with the Chief Data Officer.
3. The CFO will have to manage an increasing amount of risk
Technology leads to a greater complexity but also opportunities for the Finance department. The security of the data will have to be constantly improved, calling for highly skilled risk management processes. Disruption of the business model, data control, competition benchmark… These stakes will become crucial for Finance functions by 2020.
4. The CFO must develop its leadership skills
54% of CFOs name talent management as a top priority in the transformation of their job, according to PwC.
With an increasingly strategic role, the Finance Director has an interest in managing the skills and people surrounding him. The three main pillars will be trainings (58%), team building (38%) and peer exchange (29%).
5. The CFO will need to connect business and Data Science
Data and analytics are becoming increasingly crucial to businesses, not just in terms of finding new markets and new segments in order to achieve revenue generation, but also for understanding, variabilizing, and controlling costs. Artificial intelligence and processes robotization will become mandatory to manage data. Today, only 2% of Finance departments are willing to resort to the use of robots to accelerate cash generation and improve performance. PwC considers that 48% of CFOs will have took the leap by 2020.
6. The CFO must take “data-driven” decisions
Websites, social media, marketing campaigns, CRM… Companies generate billions of data each day; way more than what we could even process so far. Today, artificial intelligence allows businesses to analyze these data and benefit from high added value information to take data-driven decisions rather than feeling-driven choices. At a time when customer experience is a deciding factor and extended knowledge of each account can be strategic, data-driven decisions are an absolute prerequisite.
By 2020, the CFO will build his strategy on a precise data analysis to predict customer behavior and accelerate sales cycle.
7. The CFO will be a curator of talent
The Finance Director of the future will drive talent acquisition and retention to define a structured competencies framework. If 65% of CFOs are still looking for technical competencies in their teams, 42% of them are already prioritizing soft skills. Tomorrow, competencies related to data and talents mobility will become highly valued. By breaking down silos within the company, the Finance Director will have to make sure he is surrounded by talented multi-taskers, capable of handling business problematics as well as designing strategic plans.
8. The CFO will take part in the company’s growth story
For most organizations, cost-cutting programs are not high-priority anymore. The Finance Director’s mission is focused on investment politics for growth. Many of them see the digital evolution as an opportunity to launch a profound organizational transformation to create value. By 2020, the CFO will take part in technology investment appraisal and business development via data-driven indicators to uncover sales opportunities. Artificial intelligence will be an undeniable asset for long-term value generation.