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The Future of the CFO

Joel Wilhite

By: Joel Wilhite

May 07, 2019

The role of the CFO is continuously evolving. While leading financial planning and risk management for their organizations remains paramount, today’s CFOs are also taking on a more strategic role in keeping the business ahead of its competition.

Not everyone is prepared for this shift. A study conducted by Forbes and KPMG found that a third of CEOs believe their CFO lacks the right skills to support strategic planning. The report urges heads of finance to become Renaissance CFOs, a leader who “builds on the wisdom of the past, embraces the technology of the present and imagines the innovation of the future.”

Below are four best-practices for CFOs to consider in positioning themselves for future success.

Break Down Internal Silos

Take a proactive approach to combat the “silo mentality” that often plagues businesses. When employees, or even entire departments, are reluctant to share insights with the rest of the company, this can negatively impact workflow and overall performance. If you champion knowledge sharing for your direct reports, colleagues can learn from each other, work toward collective goals, and avoid repeating past pitfalls.

Prioritize Communication

Ensuring that lines of communication are open amongst your leadership team is also critical. While communication skills are not typically high on the list for CFOs, approaching colleagues directly with insights and advice will help you make better long-term decisions for the business. Effective communication is essential to explain the company’s financial performance to non-experts, which becomes increasingly important as the business grows and more teammates need to understand the numbers to do their jobs effectively.

Hire the Right Team

Even the strongest leaders need the right people on board to make the most of opportunities for innovation. Ernst & Young’s report on technology and people in business stresses that managers should hire people who can do the jobs of today as well as those of tomorrow. Look for candidates to fill your most-needed skill gaps, but also envision the challenges you might face in five years and work ahead to address those demands as well. Surrounding yourself with the best and brightest talent can elevate the role that your entire department plays within the business, from number crunchers to strategic thinkers.

Turn to Technology

It’s no secret that technology, particularly fintech, is changing the role of the CFO. Rather than fearing that technology will replace members of your team, consider the benefits it can deliver. Fintech, like AvidXchange’s accounts payable and payment automation solutions, makes finance departments more efficient and less prone to human error. It can also provide greater control over managing costs, helping your business scale and grow its portfolio without the need to hire additional headcount.

The Way Forward

Drive your business forward by thinking outside day-to-day responsibilities to act as a catalyst for improvement across your organization. By becoming more accountable for people and technology, in addition to the numbers, CFOs can position themselves – and their business – for future success.

Joel Wilhite

Joel Wilhite

Joel Wilhite is the chief financial officer at AvidXchange. His decades of diverse experience includes senior financial leadership roles and private and public companies, including Quantros, BenefitFocus, Blackbaud and KPMG.

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