The new hybrid CFO

Digital acceleration as the driving force for finance leadership

Since the dawn of digital, the role of CFOs has changed over time, but nothing prepared companies for the paradigm shift of these past few years. Enterprises struggling with the demands of ever more complex processes; from CPM (Corporate Performance Management) to ERP – everything seems to need an urgent upgrade to become future-ready now. This ‘upgrade’ also needs to happen in the hearts and minds of CFOs.

What does this relentless acceleration mean for Finance Leaders?  

A recent CPA article clearly put the spotlight on the harsh truths’ CFOs are grappling with. Referring to a survey involving 225 global Finance leaders, the headline reads:

"Nearly Half of CFOs Have Not Completed Any Digital Transformation Initiatives."

cfo graph


This may come as a surprise, considering so many enterprises have undergone digital transformation in one way or another – or are in the midst of finance optimisation exercises.  It also showcased that one of the biggest Finance challenges companies face, is first and foremost a cultural/people and skills issue.

“We see it every day in our discovery journeys with CFOs. Some of the greatest obstacles are not technical but are between departments and the unawareness of each other’s (business) space, such as the relationships between CFOs & CIOs.” – David Watson MD, Concentric Solutions

Other findings amongst CFOs show an equally bleak picture of ‘digital readiness’. Some of the key points of the above-mentioned survey, involving 225 global CFOs. (conducted by Workday & Longitude Research) deduced the following key benefits and pain points:

CFO hybrid skills1

Post-pandemic, the pressure on Finance leaders to increase digital technology adoption has escalated, requiring them to blend ‘finance’ and ‘non-finance’ skills in order to drive value from systems and enable timely decisions. As a trusted business partner, the role of CFO now transcends financial reporting and controlling, with the new hybrid CFO influencing strategic direction and helping other functions chart a course for success.

CFO hybrid skills

These factors create expectations of competence in modern Finance Leaders that result in meaningful actions which drive change, making businesses more resilient and better able to navigate economic trends and market volatility.

Such hybrid skills will ensure that CFOs are empowered to meet the challenges of Finance Transformation such as:

  • Moving away from outdated legacy systems
  • Optimising finance processes and workflows
  • Combating risks by improving data transparency/governance
  • Evolving towards an on-demand data-centric culture
  • Timely delivery of plans, forecasts, analysis
  • Deepening the CFO/CIO relationship

It is all connected. Even the near future of the Office of Finance will look very different from what is today. Digital Readiness is the order of the day!

With better integration, unified platforms and the advent of intelligent automation Finance resources can allocate time to more value-added tasks ensuring better-informed business decisions.  Harnessing the benefits of digital transformation requires a skills shift, a by-product of which is a shift from reactive to pro-active leadership – a giant leap indeed for traditional finance roles.

But it is not enough for cfos to charge ahead with new digital savviness. The wider Finance team requires upskilling and on-demand access to training resources ensuring the viability and maximum efficacy of new system implementations.

CFOs and finance teams need the digital tools to provide accurate insights from business data. Market volatility creates greater dependencies on active forecasting and a challenge to interpret larger, more complex data sets effectively. CFO’s need to become storytellers to bring to life the insights hidden in the numbers. The new hybrid CFO blends traditional Finance know-how, change management skills and considered adoption of technology to drive better business outcomes. It is indeed all connected.

Ready to be empowered to meet the challenges of Finance Transformation? Read our five methods for enhancing your digital maturity as a CFO.


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