Professional Development

3 Must-have Skills of the Modern CFO

Newsflash! The role of the modern chief financial officer (CFO) is changing. The role is evolving from one of leader of the back office toward one of strategic advisor to the organization. This evolution doesn’t diminish the importance of establishing and maintaining credible financial reporting. Instead, this evolution is in addition to this responsibility and arises as systems, data, and analysis become more integrated across the enterprise.

Existing and aspiring CFOs should take heed of this trend and prepare themselves to fulfill this new and exciting role. Let’s look at three skills you might want to spend some time developing to prepare.

1.Communication skills

Almost every study of the strengths and weaknesses of today’s CFOs identifies weak communication skills as something that holds individual back from achieving higher levels of influence in the executive boardroom. Communications skills entail the ability to summarize vast quantities of data and pinpoint important issues with exacting accuracy in written and verbal presentations.

Let’s face it, in finance the deck is stacked against us. We work with highly technical and complex matters. We are buried in mountains of data and details. And frankly, not everyone gets as excited about the numbers part of the business as much as we might. But its our job to be that voice of reason, the person who brings a calming influence in heated discussions, and be that trusted advisor to the chief executive.

Want to get started? Consider some of these courses to build your communication skill prowess:

2. Change management

The world is moving faster now. Businesses are pivoting and shifting strategy more often than in years and decades of the past. This accelerated pace of change has placed an increased emphasis on having a CFO who can lead and deliver on major change initiatives.

Are you planning to acquire or merge with business? Are you planning on implementing a new system? Are you pursing a new growth strategy? In all of these types of situations, the CFO will be front and centers guiding change and dealing with the very real human challenges of change management.

70% of change initiative fails to achieve the objective set. Before you embark on your next change initiative, be sure to get some training in this discipline and avoid joining those dire statistics. Check out our course on Change Management to get started.

3. Team building

And finally, how are you going to do all this? How are you going to play a more strategic advisory role at the executive boardroom table? How are you going to lead change across the organization? Well, quite simply you are going to need to build a strong team around you.

Building a strong team requires you to develop a vision of the role finance should play within the organization. Setting a strong mandate will determine the structure of your function, the competencies you’ll need to recruit or develop, and a mechanism for always ensuring that you are having the right conversations about individual and team performance.

One tool we’ve used and develop for this purpose is a competency assessment framework. Check out our course on Competency Assessment for the Finance Function to get started.

I want to thank you again for all your time and effort relative to helping Proformative deliver great content at CFO Dimensions. The feedback from attendees regarding your session and the conference was extremely positive. I personally appreciate the value of your time and I can tell you without hesitation those attended your session appreciated your superb content and delivery. I loved your session, one of the best I have ever attended. I hope to have the opportunity to work with you again in the near future. – Ernie Humphrey (CEO & Founder, 360 Thought Leadership Consulting)