Over the last few decades, the role of the CFO has undergone a profound shift. The historical tasks of the finance function such as books and records, financial reporting, and statutory compliance continue to be important but are now taken for granted by CEOs. The CFO of today and tomorrow must be able to take financial data and use it to influence operational decision making and strategy. To do this effectively, a modern CFO will need to have a good grasp on available technology.
To be an effective business partner, today’s CFO must have the necessary leadership and communication skills. They must give advice and counsel as well as provide a voice of reason.
They should possess a strong understanding of the company’s business model and industry and be able to use this knowledge to provide an independent perspective and to constructively challenge the commercial and operations teams, ensuring that business decisions are grounded in solid financial criteria.
In an increasingly global and volatile environment with additional regulatory burdens, it often falls to the CFO to ensure adequate assessment and mitigation of risk as well as compliance with applicable regulatory or other legal requirements.
Supporting strategy development and helping enable its execution. The CFO also plays a role in prioritizing and ensuring the strategy can be funded.
The insights that an experienced CFO can bring to a business are powerful. Therefore, it is important that they know how to apply this knowledge in a commercial sense. A CFO that is too conservative may cause growth to be unnecessarily slowed, but a CFO that does not give enough weight to compliance will cause nightmares for the CEO and stakeholders down the track. A great VCFO will be able to weigh up their insights against the business strategy and apply them as appropriate.