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The Consistent Inconsistency

An article on the FEI website talks about how the CFO's of today, definitely tomorrow need different skill sets than 15 years ago. If that is the case, and I agree with Mike Kovar, the author of the article, why are companies listing the same old job requirements?


Chris Shumate
Title: Accounting Manager
Company: Dominion Development Group, LLC
LinkedIn Profile
(Accounting Manager, Dominion Development Group, LLC) |

I believe part of the problem is answered in the first few sentences. Just as regulatory and standards change in a reactionary way, the majority of companies do the same. They won't see a need to change until it's too late.

With the accounting industry's "inconsistent history and frequency in enacting change" one would think that those hiring the CFOs would be hiring people to fit the new normal, even if it is changing at a rapid pace. Something isn't translating.

Another reason we see the "same old job requirements" is that HR professionals are usually the ones doing the job postings for companies. When the CEO is looking for someone, it is likely they are still looking to what they needed in the past, without regards to the new.

As the author mentioned, the skills that are needed today are different. Until professionals in their 30-40s get older and take the reins from the aging professionals, it is likely to stay with the status quo. It will still be a few years, I predict, before sweeping changes are noticed at that level.

There are some "old dogs" out there who adapt to the change, but it isn't happening at a quick enough rate to reflect appropriately in the job requirements being posted.

Anders Liu-Lindberg
Title: Regional Finance Business Partner
Company: Maersk Line Northern Europe
LinkedIn Profile
(Regional Finance Business Partner, Maersk Line Northern Europe) |

This is how the accounting profession keeps itself busy. Change takes time and the Business CFO agenda has only been around for 10-15 years, however, we must also drive the debate and discussions ourselves. Now more than ever we have platforms available to us like Proformative where we can discuss with 1000s of likeminded on how we can change the culture.

What's interesting though is to see that most Proformative discussions still evolve around the classic accounting themes...

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

And moving them into the "culture change" or serious issues such as cyber-security, HR and their role, what or who the CFO should be is extremely difficult, agreed.

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

I have always said that the ROLE is more important than the FUNCTION. Most job requirements focus(and are still stuck) on the "function" and the "role" aspect of the job is difficult to conceptualize (from a requirement perspective) and evaluate. "Role" requires a different perspective than what most "functions" would historically have. The changes (evolution) that are happening now are happening on the ROLE side and the function side is still lagging.

(Independent Consultant) |

I think this article makes an incorrect assumption that most CFOs are GAAP or IFRS literate - the ones that I have worked with definitely are not, and I've worked directly for two Fortune 10 CFOs. The statement that accounting regulators could make their skills obsolete by changing GAAP or IFRS is nonsense as they don't know it anyway.

These individuals are the CFOs not because they are the best accountants: accounting is too specialized and they know enough to know what they don't know and therefore employ enough qualified staff to advise them on these items. It's like saying the chief legal counsel of a Fortune 500 company is the best attorney; he or she isn't and can't be as there are so many flavors of law that no one person specializes in everything (contract law, labor law, patent law, environment law, etc).

These individuals aren't the CFOs because they are the best finance people as well. People rise to these levels in the past, and will in the future, because they are the best leaders. They have vision and frankly produce results regardless of the accounting rules that jump up in front of them (remember, changes in accounting rules affect everyone the same, and changes in accounting rules don't change the economics of transactions between vendor and customers). CFOs need to help the entire organization focus on making the right business decisions for the organizations (grow top line, eliminate waste, etc).

I'm often amused at how each new generation thinks that history doesn't apply to them; there will be some new paradigm and things that applied in the past, don't apply to them (oh to be young again and foolish again). While there are definitely differences and trends to be aware of, I find that the majority of things that applied 10 or 15, or even 50 years ago in terms of running a successful business still apply today (make a good quality product, respect your customers and employees, be ethical, be quick, etc). What made someone successful as the chief years ago I think is still pretty much the same now (would Henry Ford be a successful CEO today? - my guess is probably yes, but it is unknowable so that's why it's good fodder for debate). But seeing as accounting roles are projected to grow at 4x the rate of financial analyst and manager jobs in the future, I'm not too worried that there won't be a need for those who don't necessarily aspire to the top rung on the ladder.

Anders Liu-Lindberg
Title: Regional Finance Business Partner
Company: Maersk Line Northern Europe
LinkedIn Profile
(Regional Finance Business Partner, Maersk Line Northern Europe) |

I really wish that the people that rise in the ranks did so solely because they were good leaders. Unfortunately history has shown that many leaders rise because they are the best at what they do and get results. You can't argue with results though.


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