The role of the CFO will evolve in the future to encompass new challenges such as global economic uncertainty and volatility, fluctuating energy prices, and turbulent currency markets, along with a shift in economic power, according to a new report.

The report, published by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants, identifies several emerging priorities that will affect the future role of the CFO. It cites nine future key issues that will shape the finance function’s top job, including regulation, globalization, technology, risk management, transforming finance, stakeholder engagement, strategy, integrated reporting, and talent.

The report predicts that tomorrow’s CFOs will increasingly need to excel at dealing with the media and brokering external relationships that matter for the face of the business. In many senses they will be the face of the corporate brand. The increased importance of corporate social responsibility will present additional challenges for the CFO moving forward

“We see more pressure on the CFO role than ever before,” said Jamie Lyon, head of the corporate sector at ACCA, in a statement. “Apart from the sheer breadth of the role now, it really is a question of having enough time in the day to prioritize and deal with all the issues that need to be dealt with. Businesses are asking a lot from their top finance leaders right now, and we don’t see this getting any easier, particularly with the current level of volatility and business uncertainty. It places the finance function and finance leaders under great pressure and scrutiny, but it also continues to provide great opportunities for finance to influence the organization. The CFO role of the future will be unique, requiring a special blend of capabilities and skills.”

This report reflects the perceptions of CFOs and finance leaders who participated in an ongoing engagement program through ACCA’s Accountants for Business Global Forum, in which IMA also takes part. Findings are based on discussions with CFOs at roundtable events held in Shanghai, New York, Moscow, and Zurich in late 2012.

“This comprehensive, global study highlights the challenges faced by today’s CFOs,” IMA vice president of research Raef Lawson. “The results of this study will help shape our joint research agenda as we provide thought leadership for finance and accounting professionals.”

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