The changing role of the CFO
In this guest article, Jason Samuels, Partner at BKL and Head of BKL Advance, discusses how today’s CFOs have a broader and more important role than ever.
Traditionally, as the name Chief Financial Officer suggests, CFOs were responsible for managing a company’s financial operations, reporting financial performance to stakeholders and ensuring regulatory compliance. More recently, the role has developed significantly.
With the advent of new technologies, hybrid working and clients’ evolving expectations, CFOs have a much broader set of responsibilities. The CFO’s value has evolved well beyond the financials to encompass ESG (environmental, social and governance) factors, culture and meaningful business transformation.
Today’s CFOs are seen as the lead support to the CEO and the board, providing strategic insights and guidance. This could include growth, risk management and corporate governance. Many are also expected to be adept at using data and analytics to drive decision-making and to be comfortable exploring emerging technologies such as AI, automation and blockchain.
There has been a seismic shift in the CFO’s role from the days of producing financial statements. Now, a typical CFO is a partner who can identify the critical success factors of the business and help to implement the changes required to scale up.
While continuing to excel in financial reporting and accounting, CFOs need the skill to put those numbers into the context of business growth. They must be able to ensure compliance with increasingly complex regulatory requirements and to manage financial risks such as fraud, cyber threats and supply chain disruptions.
Meeting demands and making a difference
With the right tools and support, CFOs can meet the challenges of their expanding role and help their companies to thrive in a rapidly changing business environment.
Here are five ways in which a CFO can make a difference:
Streamlining financial operations
Automating routine tasks such as data entry and reconciliation to free up more time to focus on strategic initiatives and enable people to become more productive.
Driving the process of raising finance for growth or investment, including supporting the forecasting process, introducing lenders, borrowers and investors; negotiating terms and conditions, and assessing the options available.
Industry data is critical to understanding the opportunities available to a business and the problems that you face. The CFO should understand the relevant data, how the business benchmarks and what steps can be taken in order to mitigate risks and drive profits and value.
Providing guidance, expertise and support in developing strategies for growth and improvement. Assisting in identifying key goals and KPIs, determining required resources and creating timelines for implementation.
Helping businesses to develop a comprehensive growth plan and exit strategy that aligns with their personal and business goals. This can include highlighting and developing the next generation of business leaders, so they are prepared for the transition of leadership and ready to continue to run a successful business in the future.
A CFO of today wears many different hats, as I’ll explore further in future articles. No owner-managed business will need all those hats, all the time – but BKL Advance is a cost-effective way to access the right level of strategic guidance and support for the business.
Jason Samuels is a Partner at BKL, a Top 65 firm of accountants and tax advisers based in London. He leads BKL Advance: BKL’s dedicated service providing outsourced CFO and commercial consultancy to growing business. Jason specialises in advice to the property, retail and leisure & hospitality sectors.