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The future is anything but predictable and having a strong finance leader is crucial for any organisation as the CFO most directly contributes to a company’s financial health and resilience.
In the times of the current pandemic, CFOs are assuming a greater role and are likely to hold onto those greater responsibilities in the future.
What are the key competencies and skills required from future CFOs?
While every search is unique and there is no universal advice to finding the right CFO, these are the most sought-after attributes:
To serve as a right-hand of the CEO, CFOs need to be able to focus on shaping strategy, transformation and scenario planning. Today’s CFOs are responsible for much more than finance, they often oversee multiple functions from IT, Legal, Real Estate to Supply Chain. Control and compliance is not enough, companies need a strategic CFO who can look at the business through the windshield, rather than the rearview mirror.
CFOs must focus on protecting the bottom line but also are expected to view the financial performance through an ethical lens to ensure sustainability and value creation.
Adaptivity and openness to innovation
Digital skills and adopting new technologies has become priority, not just “nice to have”. CFOs need to have solid knowledge of technology and how to use it to both advance the business and protect it against cybersecurity and data privacy risks. Coping with rapid changes and decision making despite uncertainties are must haves.
Communication skills and leading with empathy
Though some CFOs have impressive technical backgrounds, that is not a key to success. In the past, CFOs might have been focused on communicating with investors and shareholders. Today, they have to manage remote teams, they deliver messages of company situation and prospects to all employees, customers, suppliers and the community. The pandemic is proving that ‘softer’ leadership qualities such as empathy, compassion and reflexion are more effective than dominance and directive style. We are finding that this is helping to expand the diversity of CFO candidates.
Resilience and adaptability became more important and will remain crucial for the uncertain times ahead. Technical skills and sector-specific experience remain important but past achievements do not guarantee future success and despite the clear benefits of hiring from within the industry, our experience has shown that companies are open to look beyond their own industry to find top talent.
Partners, Czech Republic