Business Continuity

CFO Insights Series: Key Skills Finance Leaders Need for the Future

Lara Edwards |

Hard skills or soft, finance leaders increasingly need to expand their repertoires to prepare for change and their changing roles. Bolstering your strategy, digital, analytics, change management, and people skills are important targets but underlying them all is ensuring you have a growth mindset.

Those suggestions for improvement come from top CFOs and executive recruiters we interviewed recently for the latest eBook in our CFO Insights Series, Building a Future-Ready Finance Skill Set. In addition to outlining skills to develop or strengthen, the eBook also provides action items to accomplish the goals. The suggestions reflect not only the changing nature of finance but also the evolving role of finance leader into one encompassing strategy and working across the company.

“Finance leaders can no longer afford a fixed mindset,” observes Benoit de Saeger, regional director, CFO, Terumo. “They must become agile thinkers. There is still room today to approach the job as an accountant, but that will soon disappear. They have to have an analyst’s approach.”

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Continuous learning, networking outside finance, and soliciting feedback to grow and improve are among the key elements of a growth mindset, which fuels the development of other key skills.

Business Strategy and Planning 

Keeping track of the financials is just part of your job. By deepening strategy and planning skills, you can help the company identify opportunities and increase value across the business. With these abilities, you help lead on mergers and acquisitions and speed the company’s response amid market changes. As Sinead Fitzmaurice, CEO of Transfermate Global Payments says, “The CFO is the right-hand person to the CEO who ensures that the strategic goals of the business are implemented across business lines.”

Digital Skills 

To effectively master the future, you’ll have to master technology. A finance leader should learn as much as they can about artificial intelligence (AI) and the benefits of fully automating spend management, invoice processes, reporting, and compliance. With automation, your team gains the time and tools to forecast and make decisions in near real-time. Research, training, and forward-thinking peers are among the avenues to help you grow digitally. “The job of the finance leader is to find the sweet spot of combining artificial and human intelligence to generate meaningful insight,” according to Thomas Lavin, chief controlling officer, marketing solutions, at SAP.

Data and Analytics 

Both short-term and long-term strategies require data and analytics. The data will tell the story that you use to explain where the business is at and where it can and will go. You can more confidently analyse market trends, adjust spending, and make investments when you have key information in an understandable format. Dashboards, industry forums, and predictive analytics are among your action items.

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Change Management 

Technology, learning new skills, and revising processes – they all involve change and require employees to adapt. That makes change management an integral component in success. As a finance leader, you can be a change leader by being systematic with planning, ensuring implementation is well thought out, and taking stakeholders into consideration so that initiatives don’t go off the rails. So, study change management models, consider specialised software, and emphasise and practice communication skills.

People Skills 

The employees you hope will embrace change aren’t one-size-fits-all. They’re diverse people with different needs, values, and desires. That makes leadership and other interpersonal skills valuable. Sign up for special people skills programmes, read on the topic, study different cultures, and take part in diversity training. “When you think about how CFOs have to manage a more global workforce or remote and hybrid workers, the ability to work with a diverse group of people is more critical than ever,” notes Stanton Chase’s Cathy Logue, managing director, global practice leaders, CFO and financial executives.

Learn More About the Key Skills 

Get the eBook to read more about the skills finance leaders need to perform their new, more strategic roles and ready themselves and their companies for the future.


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