Have the skills needed to become a CFO changed? If so, how?
Two recent studies about the future of finance / accounting shed some light on the new skills needed by CFOs and accounting professionals in business and industry, not-for-profits, and even government.
Both reports reflect the rapidly changing business environment and the changing roles of CFOs. Both reports talk about the increasingly complex business environment and globalization, and mention the technology changes of social, mobile, the cloud, and Big Data. Yet the one skill that stuck out for me is strategic thinking. This shows up in both reports and our own research for the CPA profession.
EY talks about it in three of their top five skills — executing business strategy, deeper insights into the competitive marketplace, and designing overall business strategy.
When I analyzed these two reports, I come up with five critical skill categories that are clearly differentiators for future-minded CFOs:
- Leadership: The ability to influence others and lead major strategic change ansd innovation projects.
- Strategic thinking: Understanding the competitive context of your business / industry and how that relates to your corporate strategy.
- Communication (and presentation skills): The ability to make your thinking visible to others and to present complex financial issues in easy to understand ways.
- Collaboration: The ability to build collaborative relationships with the business units, other corporate functions, and the board.
- Business acumen: Understanding the changing nature of business models and the infrastructure (sales and marketing, IT, HR, R&D, operations) needed to operate in today’s complex global business environment.
Read “How to think differently in a world of transient advantage” from the January 2014 edition of the MACPA’s Statement magazine.
What are the top skills you think CFOs need for 2014?
- EY report: Finance Forte:The future of finance leadership
- Business Learning Institute research from CPA Horizons 2025: The top 5 skills CPAs need now
- ACCA-IMA report: Future Pathways to Finance Leadership (registration required)
- MACPA CFO Roundtable results: Top Five Challenges Facing CFOs
- BLI blog: Is a Paradigm Shift in Talent Needed?
- BLI announces a new era in talent development