Taking on new challenges in the role of the CFO

SmartStream’s Chief Financial Officer, Richard Bowler, explains how the role of the CFO is now subject to more complexity and responsibility, and highlights why that’s a good thing for the finance team…

Taking on new challenges in the role of a CFO

What are the biggest challenges facing the modern CFO?

The biggest challenges for the modern CFO are the increased complexities, both internal and external, of doing business. They are increasing the scope of the CFO’s responsibilities. Internally, the CFO is no longer just a ‘bean counter’, but instead a driving force trying to find value in all areas of the business. The modern CFO provides business intelligence and insight through reporting and analysis, and by using performance measurement to drive accountability and operational effectiveness. Externally, the world is a much more complex place, and the CFO must manage these external factors to mitigate risk and ensure the business is managed in the most efficient manner.

How is technology helping to overcome those challenges?

In recent years technology has helped CFOs and finance teams operate much more efficiently and effectively. Financial systems offerings continue to develop at a rapid pace. Cloud-based solutions are increasing the flexibility of finance teams’ work patterns, allowing for a more customised, personalised professional life resulting in greater efficiency. More integrated financial systems reduce the need for reconciliation between systems and allow more exacting business reporting. The finance team can now combine financial and non-financial data enabling the measurement needed to drive operational efficiency in all areas of the business. 

To what extent has technology changed the role of the CFO in recent years?

Being a CFO is not just about being an accountant any longer, and that’s something within the role that I truly love

The role of the CFO has broadened greatly, largely facilitated by the technology that integrates financial systems with management information. However, even with all these advances, the CFO’s role is still largely performed on a personal basis, interacting with the individual. On a daily basis, I find myself meeting with a wide range of people, from the CEO and executive management team, to the Board of Directors and customers, with each needing something unique to their role. Being a CFO is not just about being an accountant any longer, and that’s something within the role that I truly love.

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One response to “Taking on new challenges in the role of the CFO”

  1. kevin says:

    One important challenge involves skills and experience. Because most CFOs have a background in accounting, they often develop as linear thinkers who excel at solving well-structured problems. But today, organizations face increasingly complex, ambiguous challenges — and the data they have to address them is often incomplete or even contradictory.

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