CFOs: embrace change for success.

Author:Bissonette, Laurie
Position:Economically Speaking

Times are changing. These days, it seems like the only constant in business is a rapid pace of change, whether related to regulations, technology, or even client and employee expectations. While chief financial officers (CFOs) can often help their organization navigate change to stay competitive, the role of the CFO is evolving, too, making it difficult for organizations to fill this challenging role in an effective way. I know, because I've been asked many times by businesses to help them find the "perfect" CFO candidate in the last year. I've got my eyes open for that person right now.

This role is in demand because a successful CFO can help provide support and strategic input to manage organizational change. A CFO is uniquely able to take an investor's perspective and look at the business from the outside in, to challenge strategy from a risk perspective and look at all key decisions through a value lens. CFOs can also mitigate risks by looking after the company's assets and cash flow to help limit the company's exposure at times of crisis.

However, some organizations underutilize their CFOs and don't even realize it. While a recent KPMG survey found that some organizations increasingly want their CFOs to concentrate on growth and strategy, the finance function is sometimes structured so that anyone filling this role is instead forced to deal with the daily demands of tax and financial compliance, in addition to having to stay on top of technological innovations and mentoring a team of individuals.

The survey, for which KPMG teamed up with Forbes Insights, collected responses from 178 chief executives, business owners and chairmen of large companies. Here are a few key findings about their changing views and expectations on the finance function, including thoughts related to the future of the CFO:

* Almost 75 per cent of CEOs and business owners believe the CFO's role will increase in importance in the near future, compared to other C-level roles.

* Almost 50 per cent of CEOs place the most value on their CFO's growth-oriented initiatives...

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