CFO role gains importance in pandemic

The global pandemic is changing the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) according to research by ACCA and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), which identified a growing shift to more strategic responsibility

A survey of 1,152 members, as well as global roundtable participants that included CFOs and CEOs, found 72% felt that the role of the CFO will either ‘increase or increase significantly’ in importance over the next three to five years.

This proportion rose to 82% among CEO respondents. In addition, 68% of the CEOs felt that people highly value the strategic insights of CFOs.

With this increased responsibility, finance and accounting executives must focus on building a talent pipeline in their organisations that can satisfy the needs of the future, the research found.

Three quarters (78%) of respondents assessed that the ethical lens was a differentiating factor for the CFO in comparison to other executives.

Respondents were asked to assess six hypotheses about the CFO role.  They most strongly agreed with the hypothesis that CFOs will play an increasingly important role in strategy execution.

The least supported hypothesis was the career progression of the CFO towards a CEO role; however, most felt that this trend would increase.

Raef Lawson, IMA vice president of research and policy, said: ‘Our research concluded that CFOs are no longer viewed solely as finance leaders. They are being looked to for governance and risk management, business change, business resilience, and technology advancement.’

Clive Webb, ACCA head of business management, said: ‘Our CFOs of today are strategic and forward-looking, and no longer limited by their organisation’s financial agenda.

‘They have broad agendas and are contributing to their organisations in ways that we identified back in 2012, even during this global pandemic. Our CFOs are more well-rounded than ever and will continue to enhance their skillsets as many take on more responsibility and possibly become CEOs in the future.’

Useful links:

The CFO of the Future report

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