Much has been written lately about the ongoing evolution of the role of the CFO. A recent post in CFO Magazine summarized how the skillset of the perfect CFO has grown and changed over the past few decades:
“Equal-sized foundational skill sets like accounting, strategy, technology, operations, banking, and compliance, blended with such leadership traits as creativity, communication, diligence, patience, and humor. Voila! The uber-CFO.”
The author notes that many CFOs in the 1980s were accountants by training. In the 1990s, CEOs wanted their CFOs to be more than just accountants:
“They wanted someone to help them connect current business performance to strategy, and strategy to the forward-looking operating plan.”
In the next decade, Sarbanes-Oxley was passed which led to an increased focused on traditional accounting skills. However, the evolution of the role of the CFO continues:
“Now, we appear to have come full circle. The CFO is back to being a business-savvy, operations-focused, and strategic-minded person who can lead finance and accounting, knowledgeably talk with the rest of the C-suite as well as company managers, and collaborate closely with both the board of directors and the rarefied realms of Wall Street: banking and private equity.”
Of course, CFOs realize the importance of accounting regardless of their formal training. However, to be a true, value-added business partner to the CEO, a broader range of skills is required:
“Today’s CFO must have a solid background comprised of strategic and business skills. That’s how you build a career.
Accounting knowledge is more important than accounting experience.
You ensure balance sheet accuracy and address growing compliance demands by hiring smart accountants and giving them sophisticated finance and accounting software tools.”