The Modern CFO: How to Lead Your Team Into a New Era of F&A


As the wave of digital transformation continues to gain momentum, CFOs are on the cusp of a powerful opportunity to lead their teams into a new era of accounting and finance.

The industry is changing at a rapid pace, and creating the possibility for innovation on every single level. Finance automation has the ability to improve manual business processes at an accelerated pace, making them more efficient, responsive, and transparent.

I predicted years ago that the expectations upon us would change, and I’m feeling this more intensely than ever before. The good news is that we have the tools we need at our fingertips.

Now, it’s all about breaking away from the numbers to focus on driving strategy, and even more importantly, creating the strategic vision our organizations need to realize the most revenue driving outcomes.

Need More Time? Turn to Technology

In order to stay ahead, it is integral for CFOs to lead the technology initiatives for their organization while keeping risk and security in mind. They must identify the best infrastructure investments to ensure sustainability and position the company well in the future.

But time is one of the most valuable commodities in business today, and according to the Future of the Finance Function 2017 survey, “75% of senior finance professionals believe CFOs will play a greater role in innovation BUT two-thirds currently admit they have too little time to spend on innovation and process improvement.”

The changing financial landscape is not altering the traditional role of the CFO, it’s adding to it, and essential elements like transaction processing, management accounting, and statutory reporting still consume the same significant amount of time.

Fortunately, technology is synonymous with efficiency, and while there is always an initial time investment, it more than pays off in the end.

And not just for you, but for your teams as well.

Become Savvier Than Ever with the Rise of RPA

With the rise of RPA, the roles within the finance function are beginning to evolve faster than ever before, making it possible for accountants to provide the meaningful, real-time data we need to make timely, well-informed decisions and deliver direction.

With real-time snapshots and reporting, the CFO can become savvier than ever, providing the true performance of the organization and developing a new model of corporate performance management. This no longer needs to look like canned reports that show a snapshot of what you did last month, quarter, or year. It can and should show a point in time idea of where the organization is and what the forecast is predicting.

When we’re able to break free of the old mindset of inheriting ERPs or EPM systems and begin turning to technology, we can begin growing a unique revenue model that achieves our objectives faster. This new trend can also set your company up to scale and go public, if that’s on the horizon.

New Skills Lead to New Outcomes

Developing new skills is also increasingly important for the new era of finance and accounting, and the emphasis is on thinking analytically instead of transactional processing and business acumen. For our teams to be successful in developing the new skills they need – and we need them to have – a proactive leadership approach is both effective and essential.

This starts with soft skills, which means learning how to listen, inspire, and influence your teams. It involves building relationships along with respect. And our success can be measured by how much of our organization is on board with our vision.

This may mean venturing outside of your comfort zone and digging deep into some strengths that don’t generally shine in your professional persona, but effectively developing this skill set can make a massive difference in the way our teams operate - and that impacts the entire business.

Successfully leading an organization as a modern CFO may be more challenging than ever – but this also means that it can be more rewarding than ever before.

Technology has the power to free you and your teams to strategically lead the business, making more confident decisions based on real-time numbers and current performance. RPA will eventually change the way your department looks – for the better – and strengthening your soft skills can lead to both happier professionals and elevated outcomes.

It may even open the door for you to become the next CEO.