The role of the CFO is evolving from advising the business on financial aspects to becoming a driving force behind business performance and growth. These new responsibilities have pushed the CFOs remit into new territories and with technological advances automating a lot of the traditional accounting duties, the future CFO will have to be more agile than ever before.
We have highlighted 5 key skills that we feel the CFO of tomorrow will need to excel in the role.
1. Strong Accounting & Regulatory understanding
The bedrock of becoming a CFO. Ireland is one the worlds best training grounds for Accounting professionals. This is down to the high level of education and professional qualification & training required here to practice as an Accountant. Ireland is also a hot bed of multinational activity with many of the world's leading brands having EMEA/European or International HQ's based here. With this, many Accountants based here in Ireland have strong International regulatory and Accounting standards experience (US GAAP, IFRS etc) which positions them well to take on a senior level finance role. Commercial finance skills have also become more important as businesses move from having backward focused finance functions to more informed and future focused finance functions.
2. Understanding of Data Science
Data has or will become the new gold for many organisations. Data analytics separates hard facts and opinion and can provide highly valuable information about customers, product performance and margin analysis. More and more companies are looking to the finance leader to define the metrics and measurements that will be tracked to manage growth.
3. Knowledge of Innovative Technologies
The finance leader of tomorrow will be a driving force behind new technology solutions that support the business. Finance leaders are challenged with turning the numbers into something meaningful and consumable for non finance employees. By identifying areas for digitisation and automation that will create efficiencies, the finance leader of tomorrow will free up their the team to add more commercial value to the business. Recent survey results show that 4 in every 10 Irish business are using some version of AI Technology.
4. Senior Commercial Strategist
The modern finance leader is the senior leadership team's key advisor. The person understands, in depth, the market opportunity, strategy and business model of the organisation and provides a unique perspective that looks across all departments with limited bias.
5. Emotional Intelligence
Communication and Emotional Intelligence (EQ) are the key skills that finance professionals should focus on developing. With technology continuing to disrupt the finance function, and finance becoming more embedded in the commercial business functions, EQ has become one of the key differentiators between a high performing CFO and other CFOs. He or she understands the importance of momentum for the organisation to reach its full potential.
Outside of all the technical skills required and regulatory knowledge needed to be a successful CFO, most of all, a modern day CFO is a true leader. Focused on driving the commercial strategy through a data driven and emotionally intelligent manner. The new breed of CFO looks after the 'day to day' whilst always looking for ways to push the business forward.