Business is continually changing and so are the job duties of a company’s top financial exec: the CFO.
Globalization, the explosion of information, and newer technologies make the CFO’s role an exciting career goal for aspiring professionals. Long gone are the days when CFOs were seen as “number crunchers.” Today’s CFOs are being asked to serve as “chiefs” of leadership and strategy. As diverse as the CFO’s role has become, so too are the career paths for getting there.
As IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) vice president of research, I closely examine the accounting and finance profession, predict trends, and offer insight to the future of business. One of our latest initiatives, with our strategic partner ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), is “Future Pathways to Finance Leadership,” a study of 750 CFOs.
Through our research, we’ve learned that tomorrow’s financial leaders will need broader business skills and diverse work experiences to adapt to the evolving needs of business. A new mix of technical and soft skills will be in demand. This goes well beyond the nuts and bolts of financial accounting. In fact, 40% of CFOs surveyed had taken a role outside the finance function in their careers.
The most popular stepping-stone to the CFO role was from financial controller. Obviously, you can’t get away from the need for baseline finance skills, but there are so many more capabilities future CFOs will need to bring to the table, too.
What the Aspiring CFO Can Do
Career up-and-comers can get an advantage by gaining a broad set of skills and work experiences early on. The Future Pathways report offers advice from current CFOs to help others prepare for the path ahead.
Imagine what business will look like in 10 or 15 years. I believe we’re in for an interesting ride with the ever-changing business environment. What do you think the future holds for CFOs, and how will you prepare?
Written by Dr. Raef Lawson, CMA, CPA, CFP, CFA