5 Skills Tomorrow’s CFOs Will Need to Succeed

Besides all the accounting skills they learned in school, tomorrow’s CFO will need to have sharp business acumen.

As Workday finance writer Steve Dunne observes, “Once considered a numbers-only role, finance is now balancing traditional responsibilities with the growing demand for data-driven analysis and insights, risk management and other key business functions.”

The shift from number cruncher to analyst and strategist is nowhere more clearly seen than in the percentage of chief financial officers at America’s largest companies that are CPAs. Where half were certified public accountants in 2014, last year only 36% held that certification.

“It’s almost ideal now to have a businessperson who happens to have a strong finance background,” says Barry Toren, a financial officers practice leader. “They need to have a nimbleness and an ability to deal with ambiguity.”

In a global survey by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants, a majority of the management accountants said the role of CFO had already evolved to give them “leading responsibility for business strategy formulation.”

After marshaling the evidence to show how the role of the CFO is changing, Dunne details five skills “that finance needs in order to become the strategic guide the C-suite requires”:

Diversification — Pointing out that “data and actionable insights are now fundamental to business success,” Dunne says CEOs want their finance leaders to have both accounting skills and “wider operational backgrounds and a broader mix of business experience.”

Data science familiarity – “CFOs and finance teams will need to understand how to harness data — beyond the numbers — to explain why strategies are the right ones, and to explain the reasons and context behind those decisions.”

Technology understanding – “Finance teams will increasingly use advanced analytics to run predictive models and develop better forecasts. Understanding technology and systems — and whether they are capable of enabling greater efficiencies, agility, and insights — will be critical.”

Better collaboration with CIOs – “Finance’s journey to become a more strategic function will depend a great deal on its ability to find the skills to allow it to embrace digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. That requires a shift to more technical skills and better links with IT leaders to bring together the two functions more effectively.”

Ethics and trust – “The ability to apply an ethical lens is a strong attribute of the CFO, and the finance community,” writes Dunne.

Calling the past year “socially, politically, and economically transformational,” Dunne says the challenges have also made it an “opportune time for the office of finance to have an impact, with CEOs increasingly looking to the finance function to help shape business direction and strategy.”

Photo by Keren Levand on Unsplash

What It Means to Be a Leader During a Time of Crisis
General Interest Leadership + Management Worklife

What It Means to Be a Leader During a Time of Crisis

Mid-Life Crisis? Consider a Mid-Life Career Switch
Accounting + Finance General Interest Information Technology Leadership + Management Worklife

Mid-Life Crisis? Consider a Mid-Life Career Switch

Lawyers Look to Move Firms to Keep Remote Work
Legal Support

Lawyers Look to Move Firms to Keep Remote Work

Is the Hybrid Workplace Sustainable?
Worklife

Is the Hybrid Workplace Sustainable?

Bank of America, Competitors to Raise Pay
Financial Services

Bank of America, Competitors to Raise Pay

Class of 2021 to Enter Job Market
Financial Services Healthcare Information Technology Marketing Technology Professional Support

Class of 2021 to Enter Job Market

Pharmacies Are Entering the Mental Health Market
Healthcare Pharma

Pharmacies Are Entering the Mental Health Market

Pandemic Challenges Create New Opportunities for Virtual Career Development
Worklife

Pandemic Challenges Create New Opportunities for Virtual Career Development

America’s New Tech Hubs
Information Technology

America’s New Tech Hubs

How to Recognize if a Manager Is Right for You
Worklife

How to Recognize if a Manager Is Right for You

Green Key Resources is Hiring!
Accounting + Finance Architecture + Engineering Creative Financial Services Healthcare Human Resources Information Technology Legal Support Marketing Technology Pharma Professional Support

Green Key Resources is Hiring!

How to Think Like a Lawyer
Legal Support

How to Think Like a Lawyer

3 Questions to Unlock Your Authentic Career
Creative Worklife

3 Questions to Unlock Your Authentic Career

Businesses Rethink “Necessary Travel”
Worklife

Businesses Rethink “Necessary Travel”

YOLO Is Sparking Riskier Career Moves
Worklife

YOLO Is Sparking Riskier Career Moves

21 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Today & Beyond
Architecture + Engineering Worklife

21 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day Today & Beyond

Want to Feel More Connected? Try Some LOLs
Leadership + Management

Want to Feel More Connected? Try Some LOLs

In a Time of Crisis, What Makes a Good Leader?
Leadership + Management

In a Time of Crisis, What Makes a Good Leader?

The Pandemic Is Altering Data Privacy Expectations
Information Technology

The Pandemic Is Altering Data Privacy Expectations

Job Openings Hit a Two-Year High
Human Resources

Job Openings Hit a Two-Year High

Latest Blog Posts
View All Posts
What It Means to Be a Leader During a Time of Crisis

What It Means to Be a Leader During a Time of Crisis

During the early months of the pandemic, team leaders, managers, and company executives had to use cognitive reframing to build...
Read More
Mid-Life Crisis? Consider a Mid-Life Career Switch

Mid-Life Crisis? Consider a Mid-Life Career Switch

Far too often, ages and life stages are regarded as barriers to starting a new career. But the mid-life career...
Read More
Lawyers Look to Move Firms to Keep Remote Work

Lawyers Look to Move Firms to Keep Remote Work

As law firms across the country consider brining an end to remote work, some lawyers and other legal professionals are...
Read More