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Why today’s CFOs are redefining their roles for good

Written by Chris Ewen on Friday, 20 May 2022. Posted in Talent, Financial management, People, Finance

Today’s chief financial officers (CFOs) may be unrecognisable from their predecessors.

Why today’s CFOs are redefining their roles for good

Today’s chief financial officers (CFOs) may be unrecognisable from their predecessors.

In the past ten years, CFOs have undergone a swift evolution directly linked to the availability and power of data in business today. Now, predictive technologies which pull continuous insights from data mean they are visionaries.

But where next for CFOs? The answer, according to new Sage research ‘CFO 4.0 – The Redefined CFO’, is that they are masters of technology. This allows them to push digital transformation forward alongside CEOs, with digital currency on the cards and the metaverse just a step away.

With the help of those Sage findings, here’s how I see today’s CFOs operating, day-to-day.

At the centre of the business

Today’s CFO isn’t hard to find. They are highly visible on the company floor, talking to people of all levels, listening, and responding to requests from across the business. They lead from the front.

As the CEOs indispensable confidant, the CFO can often be found by their side, influencing strategic decision making with the company’s overall financial data front of mind. With digital technologies at their fingertips, the CFOs ability to present accurate, concise, and relevant financial data supports the CEO to make big decisions in a timely manner. 

Yet, the modern CFO is far from an exclusive figure. They also interact continuously with teams across the organisation, from sales and customer services to marketing and HR. How? Their interconnected cloud platforms and applications allow a true understanding of financial performance, challenges, and opportunities across business units.

The CFO’s newly central position is their route to leading better-informed decisions on whole-company strategies and policies.

Making the tough decisions easier

The CFO is surrounded by an environment of AI and machine learning technologies that can enable fast, efficient, large-scale data processing to produce accurate insights. Not only that, but these technologies get to know the business as they go, becoming more refined and delivering better insights over time as the AI learns.

Critically, CFOs are bastions of long-term strategy and vision. You won’t find them sweating the small stuff. Reading every line in the ledger is out because AI technologies quickly and accurately spot issues. Only then will a CFO need to step in and fix the problem. 

Being well-informed is a surefire way to make good decisions. And, with the time CFOs save on repetitive manual tasks, they can invest in considering the value of new, exciting technologies. For instance, Sage research found that 44% of CFOs in UK small and medium businesses (SMBs) believe decentralised currencies are ‘extremely’ viable as a long-term payment solution, and 58% plan to increase their organisation’s presence in the metaverse.

A dependable leader through thick and thin 

The modern CFO has a knack of always making the right decision. Not only that, but people trust their judgement, and are happy when they lead.

Why? Because the influence of data driven insights upon CFOs is clear. They have taken into account not only financial data but aggregated data from across the entire business, earning the trust of each department as they go.

This birds’ eye view of the business means that, when they want change to happen, it happens fast and effectively across multiple business units; with every team well informed of how this will enable their success. 

Not all change can be controlled, of course. And when a business is hit with unforeseen changes, the CFO reacts with lightning speed because they’re already working with a future-focused approach. This is thanks to predictive capabilities, planned contingencies, financial projections and strategies they can see before them, in the form of AI-driven insights.

The benefit of a birds’ eye view

This transformation of the CFO role is critical for forward-looking organisations today. Alongside leadership, CFOs can be confident to assert their knowledge and skills to help the company secure more ambitious goals than ever.

About the Author

Chris Ewen

Chris Ewen

Vice President and Finance Director of Sage UKI.

Chris is responsible for all aspects of financial reporting, budgeting and forecasting, business planning, process improvement and providing strategic leadership, heading up our Commercial Finance, FP&A and Business Partnering teams. Chris is a highly collaborative Finance leader, working across all functions of the business, using data and insights to support Sage in achieving its strategic vision and commercial ambitions.
Throughout his career he has focussed on building high performing teams and is passionate about providing the right environment for people to thrive and grow, creating a culture for Finance teams to lead from the front. Bringing together a human touch with commercial drive.

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