CFO DNA is Being Disrupted

The profiles and priorities of CFOs around the world are undergoing a transformation, according to a new report from Ernst & Young.

The report, “Do you define your CFO’s role? Or does it define you? The disruption of the CFO’s role,” is part of EY’s “The DNA of the CFO” series, and highlights the challenges of what makes a successful CFO.

The report argues that digital innovation, the proliferation of data, volatile risk, new regulations, and increasingly demanding stakeholders are changing the role of the CFO. CFOs are increasingly finding themselves stretched thin, with 51 percent of the 769 finance leaders surveyed by EY in the Asia Pacific region, Europe, America and the Middle East reporting that they can’t focus on strategic priorities because they’re busy with operational responsibilities. They believe demand for an operational focus will increase in the future, with 64 percent agreeing they will be increasingly asked to take on wider operational leadership roles beyond finance.

Delivery of data and analytics will be one of the most critical components for tomorrow’s finance leaders, according to 57 percent of the finance leaders polled. In addition, 58 percent of the survey respondents acknowledged they need to build their understanding of digital, smart technologies and sophisticated data analytics.

Younger CFOs are more likely to feel responsible for the ethics of decision-making within their organization, with 78 percent of the finance leaders 39 or younger reporting this. The older generation feels the same responsibility, with 69 percent saying they feel responsible.

“It's become a job that may be too big for any one individual to do well, given all the responsibilities and the incredible contrast between the day-to-day tactical controllership functions, and the very long-term, strategic, executive functions,” said EY global finance performance improvement advisory leader Tony Klima. “It's now more important than ever for the CFO not just to worry about their role, but also the team that they surround themselves with.”