The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants have published a report examining the future function of the CFO in the finance department of tomorrow.

The report, “Tomorrow’s Finance Enterprise,” focuses on the responses from 1,631 ACCA and IMA members around the world to a survey asking their views on the skills, experience and priorities for current and future CFOs. In addition to the poll, ACCA and IMA interviewed several senior finance professionals.

According to the report, the five issues shaping the destiny of finance are volatility and risk; enterprise strategy supported by smarter finance deliver; an increased emphasis on intangibles in creating value; new technology frontiers; and the quality of talent available to the CFO function.

“The instability of the current economic landscape has understandably brought new levels of scrutiny to the role of CFO and the effectiveness of investments,” said Jamie Lyon, ACCA’s head of corporate sector insights, in a report. “In many cases, this has demanded a cultural shift among finance teams, which are now required to operate in a much more ambiguous business environment. The assets that drive corporate wealth aren’t what they used to be. In the knowledge economy, intangibles such as data, information, brand and talent are central to future value creation for all sizes and types of businesses.”

The report also stressed the importance of technology. “To propel business growth, finance leaders will need to continue prioritizing investments in technology,” said IMA vice president of research and policy Raef Lawson. “CFOs have a responsibility to ensure digital, social, mobile, cloud and analytics become a strategic tool in driving enterprise change and increasing the role the finance function plays in overall business strategy.”

Along with an understanding of business strategy and technological developments, critical management skills and behaviors will continue to be prized in finance leaders, according to the report. Talent development processes need to evolve to keep up with the increasing priorities and expectations of finance leaders.

The ACCA/IMA research indicates that as the role of the CFO continues to expand, it is becoming harder to ensure finance professionals move from a narrow focus on functional perspectives to a broader understanding of strategic leadership. The survey results indicate the need for strong succession planning, coaching and mentoring practices to produce long-term success in developing future finance leadership talent.

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