With technology now at the centre of business operations, the roles and responsibilities of C-suite professionals continue to evolve – none more so than those of the chief financial officer (CFO). TDM Group founder Tarek Meliti writes


 

Having a CFO who specialises solely in the traditional aspects of the role, such as financial forecasts, reporting and looking after assets, will be considered out of touch at a time when the digital transformation journey is paramount.

Of course, these core responsibilities and duties remain in place – but what other skills does the modern-day CFO need to keep ahead?

Tech savvy

Traditionally, CFOs were entrusted with ensuring the company financials were all above board and ticking over smoothly. Today, finance functions such as credit management and payroll are largely automated, requiring CFOs to be more engaged with tech services and offerings than ever before.

The modern CFO cannot afford to isolate themself and focus on crunching the numbers. Some CFOs may worry that the changing face of their responsibilities will make their beloved roles redundant in years to come. However, they need not worry as the role of the CFO will continue to evolve over time, instead of being permanently shelved.

Faced with an uncertain and unstable economy, it is crucial for CFOs to harness technologies that help the business and their day-to-day roles – particularly data-focused applications and AI – to ensure they are making the right decisions.

By combining the benefits of financial technologies, such as intelligence and speed, CFOs can free up their time and enhance their business strategy through the latest tech offerings. Take credit management systems for example: CFOs who can identify and utilise the latest offerings are likely to reduce risk of late payments, improve cash flow and reduce debtor days.

Streamlining finance processes via technologies will not only reduce risk, it also provides a seamless experience in comparison to a traditional credit controller.

Embracing change

As core members of the C-suite, CFOs must lead by example. In the past, they were mostly reactive in terms of financial results and forecasts. In contrast, today’s CFOs must be proactive when it comes to emerging opportunities.

This awareness – typically dedicated to financial results – must now be applied to technology and how emerging technologies, or the latest offerings can help achieve business success.

Traditionally, the CFO, as part of a team, has been expected to identify the latest technology which is either emerging or currently available to assist their business. Therefore, CFOs must be aware of the latest cutting edge technologies to help drive their business forward – from blockchain-enabled verification tools and cloud-based credit management platforms to the best form of coding language for the business.

The last year has forced the process of digital transformation to increase at a unique pace, resulting in CFOs needing to be on the ball when it comes to the latest technologies that impact their business. Why? Because competitors are already discussing, if not investing, in these technologies to help drive their digital transformation into the post-pandemic world.

What of the future?

CFOs must deepen their understanding of the latest and emerging technologies their business can potentially harness.

C-Suite professionals, including CFOs, have learnt a lot over the past year in terms of the importance of technology and how much businesses rely on the services it offers. CFOs with a comprehensive knowledge of technology will, therefore, be better equipped to steer their business through the uncertain post-pandemic world of work.

The role of the CFO will not die out, it will only continue to evolve and better itself throughout the journey of digital transformation.