The CFO function is evolving at lightspeed. With digital transformation and societal changes, the CFO role is rapidly turning into one of a “Chief Fiduciary Officer”, which is going beyond the traditional financials to look towards the future and lead long term value creation in a world of many unknown risks. Storytelling is a very powerful tool to engage and energize teams about value creation and potential pitfall areas.
The traditional path of CFO usually starts with a solid foundation based on technical knowledge and then after about 15 years, the great leaders earn the coveted title.
CFOs usually are responsible for key finance functions which have included broad categories of accounting, treasury, financial planning and analysis (FP&A), controls, compliance, tax, and audit. Going forward towards 2022, the same functions exist, but they are getting more automated, so the CFO can focus more on forward perspectives.
Storytelling requires strong emotional intelligence and solid communication skills.
Here’s the four key areas the CFO can be messaging:
1) Why & Purpose
Communicating the “Why” is one of the strongest messages the CFO can deliver. It’s not only the reason for the corporate existence, but it’s also very motivational for all the stakeholders. This message should be repeated frequently and consistently to make people feel the genuine purpose.
Vision, Roadmaps and Business Plans are typically good collaboration processes, however alignment on meaningful strategy is driven by relationships and the CFO cannot over-communicate in this area.
In an era of “greenwashing”, the CFO has a real opportunity to lead since success will ultimately be measured with scorecards and transparency. Sharing the Sustainable Story with financial support is the most credible way for stakeholders to see progress.
4) Reskilling Mentorship
With technological advances disrupting job descriptions, the organization will have its share of fear and resistance.
Given the close collaboration between finance and information technology, the CFO is in a unique position to anticipate the future needs of organization and help mentor people with their reskilling into other growth areas.
What else do you think CFOs can be doing now to adapt to the future? I’d be very grateful if you provide your comments and share your thoughts. Thank you!