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What Skills Do you Value or See Important for the Future?

I was reading an article on CFO.com regarding what the future of the CFO will look like. The article describes how as industry is becoming more global, regulated, competitive, and digital and what skills will the CFO will need to run their organizations more effectively and increase shareholder value. Certainly anyone up and coming into finance roles should check this article out and those of us already entrenched in the field need to be thinking about our future as technology continues to evolve. What skills do you see as most valuable? The article can be found at: http://ww2.cfo.com/training/2015/08/will-cfo-role-look-like-2020/

Answers

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

Maybe the question should not be what skills does the CFO need but how will the CFO department(s) change.

What types of changes will need to be employed to successfully compete. And based on those needs, where are skill sets that the CFO will need to hire to carry out those changes.

I don't believe that the CFO needs to possess the "how to", but must possess the ability "to know it needs to be done" and then interpret the result.

EMERSON GALFO
Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

I am a firm believer that a CULTURE of change and improvement should be fostered first. No matter what changes occur or what the business environment throws at you, the CFO, the finance department or the organization as a whole is ready to take it on or adapt.

The whats and hows will be easy to figure out if the culture is there. How you foster the culture is unique to every organization and it is up to the CFO (and the CEO) to choose the way.

Most companies I have encountered STOP when they achieve a certain goal/process. The secret is to constantly evaluate what more can be done and go for it.

To answer your question....the most important skill a CFO should have is CULTURE BUILDING! Culture involves how you view and treat their customers, employees (or other stakeholders), what the company does or reacts in certain situations, etc. So the decisions are taken not solely on a specific issue basis but on a broader context of company building value (in whatever form) as a whole.

Topic Expert
Christie Jahn
Title: CFO
Company: Prime Investments & Development
(CFO, Prime Investments & Development) |

What about in terms of technology?

I think to both of your points, as CFO, we need to ensure we are hiring top talent that is able to adapt and change as well as foster our fast paced changing world.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

That's my point. We need to know what (in the strategic sense) we need to do or move, it is not our role to be the tactical implementers or practitioners of said change.

A good example is most of us drive a car. How many of us really understand how the internal combustion engine works? Do we need to or do we need to know that we require an expert to keep that car running and performing and that at some point, we will either need to invest in new programs, systems or technology and people to move that car to the next iteration of cars.

Plan the strategy, Champion the Strategy, and always Lead.

Bob Dupree
Title: IT Global Senior Project Manager/PMO
Company: Tronox
(IT Global Senior Project Manager/PMO, Tronox) |

From an IT standpoint, and being a firm believer that IT people need to understand the business, I think CFO's need to better understand technology and the benefits being derived from a solution. They don't need to be entrenched but they need to understand what the IT leader is saying and how the solution(s) are going to help drive profits. It's not just about hiring the right people, it's knowing the technology to a certain point as well.

In summary, I think IT needs to understand the business and the business needs to understand why they are using technology. It should all be a part of the corporate strategy.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

I don't disagree, but going back to the original thesis, is that a skill set or a broader educational topic.

I believe it is a broader educational topic.

Bob Dupree
Title: IT Global Senior Project Manager/PMO
Company: Tronox
(IT Global Senior Project Manager/PMO, Tronox) |

Totally agree Wayne.

David Buley
Title: Chief Financial Officer
Company: Association of Independent Schools of NS..
(Chief Financial Officer, Association of Independent Schools of NSW) |

The topic of necessary skills is broad and indeed ever-evolving. The role of the CFO will be fundamentally the same as it is now - the ultimate custodian of the company's finances - but it is the speed of change across all facets of the business that will need to be addressed or that CFO will fail. Firstly there is a little bit of crystal ball gazing - "How can I exploit the changes coming towards us before our competitors?". "How can I disrupt us before we are disrupted?". There is certainly a need for persuasion and influence skills - "How can I present a solid business case for change to the executives in this company?" "Who do I have to convince and how?" There is a need to understand where technology is going and what the shift to digital assets might mean. CFO's need to get in front of the wave and learn what happens in their industry in other countries or in other industries in their own country. Zoom in. Zoom out. Step sideways. get perspective. Having a broad perspective can help sell the need for change. CFO's should embrace the Data and Analytics tsunami and own that space in their company. If they don't their relevance will be usurped by skills hired by other departments. CFO's must have the insight and foresight to realise that interpretation and communication of the integrated financial and non-financial data is where they will shine. The role is no longer set and forget - it will be a relentless push for change and culture will play a large part of that. The CFO will need to accept the leadership role of the careful optimist - enabling and encouraging innovation - so the company has a sustainable future. However this can't happen in a vacuum, the CFO will need to collaborate with other departments and strategic partners, sometimes letting go of non-essential functions in order to focus on what the company can truly do well. Above all, learn time management. Don't get bogged down with endless meetings. Invest in an effective delegation regime so you can get out of the office and learn more.

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
Company: SBAConsulting.com
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, SBAConsulting.com) |

So maybe we need to redefine the de minimis requirements away from the siloed accounting background and morph it to a broad based business, technology, strategic thinking background.

hmmm, so the article got it mostly wrong in that the author still contends that we need to be practitioners of predictive analysis and big data instead of champions.

The author was right in that we as CFO's need to be more tech-savvy, but that was a win-win insight, everyone these days needs to be more tech-savvy as technology rules. Do we all need to be programmers, no; but we need to understand what out there, what's coming down the road and yes, I agree David, start using our crystal ball.

But then again, every time we do a budget, we use our crystal ball. Sounds like double helix logic....

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