How do you believe the role of the CFO has changed due to the recent global economic downturn and what do they now need to be doing differently?
The role of the CFO has been subject to more changes than any others in the corporate world in the past few years and in the current economic climate is now subject to more intense and critical scrutiny than ever. They are now subject to unrelenting competitive pressures, rapid changes of job scope and escalating performance expectations.
Ten years ago, CFOs were rarely seen as visionary or as skilled communicators and were much more restricted in their role. Now they are increasingly at the centre of all aspects of the business, both strategic and operational, and are being relied on to meet the demands of a fast-paced market, with an international stakeholder community which demands a vast amount of real-time information.
Todays CFOs are not only required to give an accurate analysis of the figures, but need to also provide a reliable forecast of future scenarios and risks which fit neatly into sound bites. It goes well beyond the root functions of control and treasury which people outside the finance function would normally associate with CFOs.
What are the latest 2010 trends in accounting and new pressures on CFOs?
One of the new pressures of the modern CFO role is the responsibility to attract investment and continual access to funds, which is an even more critical function in tough times. The growing imperative to bring in investment or hold investors when performance dips emphasises the need for the CFO to be a gifted communicator and to be fully engaged in and with the corporate communications function. CFOs are also being asked to do more and to further broaden and enhance their skills, particularly in the areas of leadership, communication and risk management.
Obviously, there is the need to ensure and maintain the financial health of the company, and they are responsible for the preservation of the companys assets.
But alongside this, CFOs are also being seen as implementers of organisational change, as strategists and cross-organisational directors. This will take them into areas of responsibility for corporate administration, legal affairs and IT.
How technologically savvy do CFOs now need to be and how would you describe their current relationship with CIOs?
CFOs will need to establish company-wide standards for systems, data and processes to help eliminate the possibility of any conflict within the organisation. This involves them working closely with the CIO to ensure that those systems enable the company to comply with a range of financial reporting and control requirements.
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