CFOs – Masters of people, tech and finance skills


By Jeff Ryan, MD of AWCape, a Platinum Sage business partner for HR, payroll and financial solutions

Higher levels of automation in the finance department are clearing the way for chief finance officers (CFOs) to expand their role beyond number crunching and compliance gatekeeping to providing data-driven strategic advice to the other members of the C-suite.


In the process, the CFO is emerging as one of the most important decision-makers in a modern organisation. 


Increased automation of financial processes such as accounts payable, bank reconciliations, financial closes and reporting is freeing up the CFO’s time, enabling them to focus their energies on analysis and storytelling rather than crunching numbers.


Global research from PwC shows that nearly 40% of CFOs plan to use automation to streamline transactional processes and enable strategic, actionable insights. The same report finds that 48% of CFOs say they’re prioritising investments in predictive models and scenario analysis capabilities to produce better, faster insights and improve decision-making that generates growth. 


This highlights how rapidly the next generation of cloud-based financial solutions are transforming the CFO’s role and creating opportunities for them to add more value to the business. The shift towards hybrid work, along with continued economic volatility, means that it’s vital for finance teams to support the business with up-to-the-second data and analysis.


Automate everything you can


To keep pace with these demands, CFOs need to automate every repetitive, low-value task that they can. CFOs do not want to spend their time managing lots of unwieldy spreadsheets, capturing transactional data or generating basic reports. They want to support the business with strategic insights about how it can maximise growth opportunities and reduce financial risks.


Every finance professional’s nightmare is not being able to quickly generate the numbers when their CEO or executive committee asks for some figures. Today’s finance solutions enable the CFO to automate most reporting and generate real-time dashboards that offer insight into key financial and operational metrics.


This enables the CFO to focus on analysis and data storytelling rather than on wrangling spreadsheets. As a result, CFOs are emerging as close partners and advises to other members of the leadership team. For example, many CFOs today partner with the CHRO to generate rolling forecasts about how headcount costs and productivity will grow as the business expands.


Masters of people, tech and finance skills


As technology transforms the CFO’s role, they are increasingly expected to master a blend of people, technology and finance skills


Today’s finance teams need to marry financial skills with competency in data science. They need to understand how to use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to generate business insights and elevate automation in the business.


This is especially the case when it comes to using today’s financial platforms for scenario modelling, planning and forecasting. A good, modern solution will give the CFO a multidimensional view of the business’s financial and operational drivers. With a real-time, dashboard view of operations, CFOs can help decision-makers generate scenarios, plans and forecasts based on accurate, up-to-date data.


Sage’s research indicates that 85% of finance leaders believe AI-powered cloud financial management solutions will positively impact the quality of their finance teams’ work in the future. Today’s solutions are flexible and configurable, giving CFOs more control and better visibility. This enables them to help shape the business’s vision using predictive scenarios and analytics.







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