A conclusion common to all the latest major studies on the future of the CFO is that they will need solid leadership skills. They will be asked to bring value to their own finance teams but also across the entire company, as a leader and as a business developer, with experience and personality.
Good leadership blends several key ingredients. Among the most obvious is the capacity to coach and delegate. Storytelling, being able to convince and influence the decision-makers, is another asset that has not always been a quality required in a CFO but that will be going forward. The studies also point to the ability to innovate, resilience and customer-centric focus as keys to effective future leadership.
Stanford University has a program setting out the qualities needed by CFOs over the next 10 years. A glance through the modules included in The Emerging CFO: Strategic Financial Leadership Program
speaks volumes about the importance of both digital and leadership in training the CFOs of the future. The skills taught are not ones that would have been most associated with finance directors 30 years ago.
- Smart Information Processing in Financial Decision-Making.
- The FinTech Revolution and the CFO.
- The Challenge of Change.
Strategy and leadership:
- Strategic Leadership: Why it Matters.
- Communication and the Art of Persuasion.
- Neuroscience and the Connection to Exemplary Leadership.
- Harnessing the Power of Story.
Tackling change and disruption is an oft-mentioned topic in studies examining the future of finance. Covid will spring to the minds of many as a topical disruptor but the way the global economy has evolved in the last few decades shows evidence of a longer-term trend. Financial crises happen more frequently as technology accelerates the pace of change. Good CFOs will be a crucial asset for innovative companies.
Fintech and the development of decentralized finance are creating a future where the qualities desired in a CFO will combine data, strategy and leadership. It is no longer simply a question of numbers.