Survey Reveals Growth Remains Top Priority for Austin CFOs
Today’s CFOs are responsible for much more than finance. Due to advances in technology and changing market conditions, the role of the CFO is growing in responsibility and becoming more strategic, high value and future-focused. Aside from managing the financial functions in organizations, CFOs are now being tasked with developing a complex new range of skills that have not been traditionally associated with the accountancy profession — including business planning, risk management and knowledge of new and emerging technologies.
Modern CFOs are bracing themselves for more changes ahead—and understand that they must adapt to be effective. But as the CFO’s role continues to evolve and extend beyond managing financials into supporting other key business areas, including corporate strategy, technology and operations, so are the expectations placed upon them from executive management.
We recently polled a sampling of Austin CFOs to gain a better understanding of the shifting role of the CFO. In response to some of the challenges that our survey results revealed, here are a few steps that we believe CFOs and their companies can take:
- Adopt a strategic leader mindset – It is essential for CFOs to move up the “value chain” by taking on a more visible role in guiding their organization’s strategy and long-term vision. In fact, overwhelmingly, our survey respondents agreed that maintaining sustainable growth is the most pressing challenge they face in their organization. By helping to develop, define and drive their organization’s overall strategy, their influence may bring renewed focus on organic growth. It’s clear that in the coming years, CFOs will need to up their game in a wide range of growth-related activities. For instance, they will need to help develop growth strategies for their companies rather than just measure progress against growth plans developed by other members of the executive team. To be drivers in the growth-plan development CFOs must diversify their roles from just being the score keeper.
- Support innovation and embrace technology – Finance chiefs were once more focused on back-office operations. However, with the advent of the cloud computing, Big Data and cybersecurity challenges, CFOs must up their game on the technology front. They can also push for technology improvements to help organizations maintain competitive. Outside of finance, the digital transformation is critical for the CFO role itself and for corporate stakeholders seeking more insight. For instance, audit committees now want to have a deeper understanding of how technology initiatives can fend off cyberattacks and move their companies forward. Modern CFOs also see value in digital initiatives as they relate to governance. So, in that sense, digital-savvy CFOs can be teachers to the board. Furthermore, as new technologies and trends impact the evolution of the CFO’s role, they also have the potential to make it easier for finance leaders to understand and effectively navigate current business complexities.
- Develop the next generation of finance leaders – CFOs help embed purpose in the business by leading through example and by grounding it to performance measurements. As CFOs shift into a more of an advisor role, they will need to develop their teams, enabling them to take on more of the financial chiefs’ responsibilities, make use of new technologies and techniques and ultimately fill the gap. When they trust and empower their teams, CFOs can spend less time on “fire-fighting.” Helping to foster a deeper talent pool, will allow CFOs to pump up the leadership capacity in their organization and sustain the finance profession for many years to come.
At the end of the day, a CFO is required to be a strategic business partner above all else, with an appreciation for all the moving parts in the business. Click here to view the complete results of our CFO Survey.
HOW WE CAN HELP
In today’s competitive and ever-changing market, you often need top-notch talent on an interim or project basis to complete critical internal initiatives, optimize financial operations and maintain your strategic advantage. Bridgepoint Consulting provide expertise for a variety of roles and functions at every level to support organizations during times of transition, transaction and transformation. If you have a question about your financial operations or need help achieving your business objectives, contact us. We are here to help.
Footnote: Bridgepoint is grateful to all the participants of our 2017 Austin CFO Survey. In particular, we would like to thank those who readily shared their insights and personal experiences.