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The role of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has changed considerably over the past decade. No longer are they just the accountant of the business. Their responsibilities are greater and this is in no small part due to the new business models, like subscription businesses, that have gained in popularity and in the way technology has changed how business is done.

But how exactly has the role of the modern CFO changed from that of previous generations, what are the causes and the future implications for the position?

This article looks to explore these aspects in fine detail.

 

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The Legacy

In the past, the CFO has been seen as the gatekeeper for the finances of an organization.

They spent a significant amount of their time reporting on historic financial numbers and controlling the financial dealings of the organization and the risk.

In today’s modern business world this may make them seem like nothing more than glorified accountants, but this would be over-simplifying their role even in the past.

While still relatively contained, they had a substantial and significant role and their partnership with the CEO or business leader would play an important part in the success or failure of the organization.

Yet now the role has changed so much that it is unrecognizable.

They are usually one of only two executive directors on the board and are often seen to be co-leading the business with many responsibilities. They are now frequently taking charge in other areas such as IT, legal, property, procurement and operations in addition to their traditional financial departments.

 


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The Technology Game

Part of the reason for this is that technology has allowed CFO’s to push themselves to the forefront of business and are seen as leaders. Now the CFO no longer needs to look at historical financial information, they can see the accounts, spending and incoming revenue of the company almost in real time. This helps them make decisions fast, in a time when everyone is demanding communications to be answered immediately.

Therefore, it has become logical that aspects of business operations and IT now come under the CFO’s umbrella.

At the same time, the financial officer has the perfect balance of business skills. Not only do they need strong financial and organizational skills, but their role requires them to have good leadership and prioritizing skills too. Therefore, they have become the perfect candidates to help take on some of the responsibilities from the CEO so they can be more focused on other aspects of the business.

 

The Requirements

There is no doubt that the role of the CFO is becoming harder.

Many businesses are expanding the role of the CFO rather than diminishing their responsibilities and segregating them into their own departments. At the same time, they are becoming more of a leader and public facing role.

This requires charm and character more than ever before and is a far cry from the stereotypical accountant often portrayed in national media.

This all means there are several new requirements for the CFO. Not only are they expected to be personable, they’ve also got to be able to view the business from many different angles. They’ve got to be a leader who is dedicated to the business, ready to put their life and soul into it, at any time, without question.

The final requirement is that they’ve got to have a strong resolve while being the strategic partner of the CEO.

With these requirements in mind, it is clear to see that being a future CFO is going to be an exciting role; however it might take those looking to secure these positions a long time. At the same time, it is likely that the rewards will be greater than they have been before.

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