What the CFO of the future looks like: Local and global leaders comment

What the CFO of the future looks like: Local and global leaders comment

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CFOs and CHROs are working hand-in-hand more than ever before to optimise costs and preserve the workforce. Here are some ideas on how to make the business more sustainable through a strong CFO intervention.

A report by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and IMA (Institute of Management Accountants) uses data from global surveys and virtual roundtable discussions to show that the CFO role is continuing to evolve with additional responsibilities and that the pandemic has brought these changes on faster than expected.

The survey respondents, 1,152 ACCA and IMA members (7% of them are based in Singapore), as well as global roundtable participants that included CFOs and CEOs 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.

HRO has put together selected quotes from local and global leaders from the report, titled The Changing Role of the CFO, that highlight the role of the CFO in the years to come.

Suryanarayanan Balasubramanian, CFO of iWise group in Singapore, noted about his own experiences as a CFO in the past few months: "The COVID situation is not something that was there before. Companies are looking for your ideas and guidance on navigating. The focus is on how I sustain cash flows, in analysing where it might have gone wrong. The way that the CFO is currently performing is that the strategy is important, but they are rolling up their sleeves and facing every incoming dollar to somehow ensure that the business survives into 2021 and 2022. It is an intense, no-holds-barred involvement."

Brad Monterio, chief learning officer at the California Society of Certified Public Accountants (CalCPA), explained that this was: "Another key role that the CFO plays. They are the integrated thinker. They are the ones who really hold the key to the link between the capitals and understand that it is economic value [that is important]".

James Lee, finance director of a hotel chain in Singapore, commented that as the CFO he had to "save lives". To ensure that the people were safe before the business was safe but for him the lesson was that if you want to be in business then you need to look across the three Ps – people, purpose and profit. He noted that "assets are crucial. What is critical now is what is [a] sustainable core asset and what is the 'toxic' or 'deteriorating' asset that [we] need to let go?"

Jasper Tay, CFO of a motoring association in Singapore, noted: "I think that the soft skills that the future CFO requires will be very different from the traditional ones, where s/he will need to be able to remotely managed his/ her team [while] ensuring key performance outcomes are met."

Amos Ng, CFO of Straco Corp Singapore, commented that one thing that the pandemic had taught him was that the CFO needed to be "mentally and physically strong". He considered that the CFO was playing a very important role in time of crisis and needed to be ready to hold the fort should the situation call for it. For this reason, the CFO has to be an effective team player.

Lead image / Report

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