“CFOs have influence over more and more functions. The magnitude of the change is both impressive and broad,” according to research from McKinsey.
Researchers increasingly find that CFOs have their fingers in many more pies than ten years ago. SpencerStuart recently noted that CFOs must now “grapple with a host of external forces affecting the business, from shifting global trade patterns and regulatory environments to disrupted business models and growing scrutiny from investors over sustainability and ESG issues.”
Regardless of how good a CFO is at their job, navigating these expanded expectations alone is impossible. Successful CFOs need to have an outwards approach and could benefit from the following.
Assemble an ‘eclectic’ team
The SpencerStuart study notes, “As their requirements grow, and their reach extends, CFOs will need to be able to work through others exceptionally well — assembling diverse and eclectic teams of experts, asking the right questions and maximising the value from the available talent.”
An Accenture survey of 1 300 CFOs and senior finance executives found that 72% of CFOs are introducing people with non-traditional skills into their finance functions.
Ankur Agrawal, a partner at McKinsey, says there needs to broaden the type of talent inside finance departments, “The scope of the function has expanded, so are you building the right bench, including folks with data science and engineering capabilities?”
Break down silos
Silos may be useful for maize and missile storage, but increasingly this approach is redundant in finance departments. A Board of Directors survey noted that, “organisational silos represent one of the most common and chronic barriers to digital business success.”
The Accenture report notes that, “CFOs are breaking down silos, collaborating across the C-suite and strategically rethinking ways of working.” The report says that nearly two thirds of CFOs have a final say in the technological direction of their businesses.
Connect with a community of CFOs
Amid the changing responsibilities and expanding role of CFOs, isolation can often be an issue, according to Michele Faull, a non-executive director of the Newcastle Building Society.
There has been a lot of discussion and study regarding employee isolation during the pandemic, but CFOs are no less prone to its harmful effects. There is some evidence from before the pandemic that executives are prone to loneliness and believe it negatively affects their decision-making abilities.
Given the need for CFOs to exchange ideas and expertise and encourage each other, it makes sense to belong to CFO Club Africa, a network of more than 5 000 international finance leaders.