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The Evolution of CFOs into Strategic Gurus

CFO | 16 January 2019

The script has been flipped from CFOs simply operating as bookkeepers, to strategic visionaries. When you truly break the role down, this is a hybrid position that has long since offered an innovative outlook by the very nature of their responsibilities.

“Here’s what’s really driving this shift—a passion for technology paired with comprehensive and intuitive analytics.” - Dev Tandon

It’s quite unbelievable how the role of Chief Financial Officer has evolved as recent as the last few years, and propelled them to a seat at the strategic table. This paradigm shift from simply managing the budget to a forward-thinking mindset is imperative to organizational success.

“The contemporary CFO is the senior executive team’s on-staff advisor. The person understands, in depth, the market opportunity, strategy and business model of the organization and provides a unique perspective that looks across all departments.”

All roads now funnel back to the CFO – and they like it that way.

CFOs: The new leaders of the C-Suite

Simply put: CFOs are becoming major players within their respective organizations. Balancing the budget is a function of the past. While it’s an obvious necessity to have all your ducks in a row, wise CFOs have successfully cemented their position as the CEO’s right hand advisor with their ability to effectively captain their ship through the volatile waters of the marketplace. They act as a perfect sounding board and collaborator because of how well engrained they are in all points of the company’s function. The smart ones know to always look forward and are able to execute on the CEO’s overall vision. A recent survey of Fortune 1000 CFOs found that 81% felt they worked at companies that viewed their finance operation as a “strategic business partner,” involving the CFO in top-level decision-making as never before. 

“Those who have exposure to both the finance and accounting sides of the business, as well as strong leadership experience across a range of businesses, performed well in my assessment.” – David DeWolf, Entrepreneur Contributor.

Using data to their advantage

“Influential CFOs demand relevant and crucial answers about business performance from their analytics solutions.” – Dev Tandon

CFOs are in the driver’s seat of powering their respective organizations forward. So instead of the traditional function of the role was looking in the rear-view mirror and analyze what has happened – contemporary CFOs are firmly gazing out the front window for transparent decision-making and watching ahead for any lucrative opportunities or turmoil that might muddy their path

“The more data-driven decisions and strategies you have in your back pocket, the better you can support your peers. Lead them with a strategic data-first mentality to minimize risky gut decisions and push your company toward sustainable profits.”

Finance executives need effective software 

If the tools in your toolkit aren’t sharpened – you’ll have a very difficult time building any kind of foundation for growth. CFOs need data readily accessible at their fingertips to be able to automatically roll actuals into forecast scenarios and build forecasting templates quickly and accurately.

It’s the million-dollar question presented to the new breed of CFOs: how will they stay focused on the long-term strategy and driving innovation while protecting the balance sheet? It begins with having a nimble, cost-effective and secure software solution that centralizes all information in order to have the flexibility and autonomy to invest in growth. CFOs are increasingly involved in setting operational and commercial strategy, navigating their companies safely through tighter credit markets, more complex regulation and unstable trading conditions.

CFOs are taking on boatloads of responsibility now and the role has an added critical element to it than ever before. This forward-thinking mentality has evolved broader in scope, which many CFOs love – the rest of the pack are having a difficult time adjusting. Remember, it isn’t the strongest species that will survive – it’s the one that is more adaptable to change. In this increasingly competitive landscape, the company leaders of overall financial health need to be able to adapt and evolve, in order to survive.

Book a free demo of Limelight and discover how easy it is to produce budgets, forecasts and reports to ensure your long-term financial goals are met and to accurately depict the overall health of your company.

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