The Evolving CFO

I read an article in the Houston Business Journal recently entitled “The evolving CFO: How the rise of the machines turned CFOs from number-crunchers into leaders”. In the article, the HBJ interviewed leading Houston-area CFOs about how their roles are changing with technological advances in finance and accounting.

One of the biggest changes noted in the article is the need for CFOs to shift their focus from merely producing financials to actually getting involved in the operational side of the business in order to improve results.  Jim Wilkinson, President of The Strategic CFO, notes that CFOs “have to get out of their seat and go work with operations and help them figure out what to they should do from a financial standpoint to improve the profits.”  Rudy Gonzalez  describes how wears many different hats in his role as CFO of Amphora, Inc. in areas such as legal, contracts and human resources.  “In the small-company world, we really roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty in a lot of different fields,” he said.  Tony Ford, CFO of PG Professional Golf notes that “Ten years ago, CFOs…had to know financial statements.  Now, they’re required to interact with sales and operations and logistics to find ways to drive profitability for a company.”

In addition to getting involved in operations the article describes how strong people skills, an often-overlooked commodity in the financial arena, are becoming more and more important for a CFO to possess.   Wilkinson says, “Good CFOs can work with non-financial people and explain to them the best things to do.  People skills are much more important.”

According to Wilkinson, the difference between the role of yesterday’s and today’s CFO is pretty simple.  “A controller reports the numbers, a CFO drives the numbers.”

 

Read the full article here.

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