Forward-Thinking CFOs Shaping Business Performance and Purpose in the Modern Era

Education

The Evolving Role of the CFO: From Financial Management to Value Creation

New research conducted by ACCA and BDO sheds light on the changing role of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and their increasing involvement in driving business decisions and reporting on non-financial aspects of operations. The report, titled “Chief Value Officer – The Important Evolution of the CFO,” is based on insights from over 100 CFOs and business leaders who participated in roundtables and in-depth interviews.

The Value-Centric Approach

The concept of value has become crucial for organizations aiming to achieve sustainability and combine economic, environmental, and social equity. Failure to do so can lead to risks and a decline in value. The report highlights the strong link between value creation and strategy and emphasizes the need to leverage various drivers, such as financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship, and nature, to generate benefits for a wide range of stakeholders. The research investigates whether there is a trend towards establishing a new role of chief value officer, and whether CFOs are already fulfilling this role.

Key Findings

The report presents three key findings:

  1. Value as a Fundamental Element: Value is a fundamental aspect of performance management in organizations, and its adoption is crucial for their journey towards a sustainable future.
  2. CFOs as Value-Centric Leaders: CFOs are increasingly embracing a value-centric approach in their work, signifying an evolution towards encompassing the role of the chief value officer within their traditionally financially focused responsibilities.
  3. Broadening the CFO Development Path: Aspiring CFOs need to gain a broader range of experiences through both formal and informal learning activities. Professional bodies and practices should adapt to engage with this evolving development path.

Opportunities for CFOs

Helen Brand, ACCA Chief Executive, recognizes the shifting landscape of the CFO role, where they have emerged as strategic leaders and advisors within their organizations. CFOs now have the opportunity to fulfill the value agenda and shape the role for future generations. Carly Bleathman, Partner – Business Services and Outsourcing at BDO UK, commends CFOs for their exceptional contributions and highlights how they are embracing the broader value agenda, reinforcing the idea that CFOs are, in fact, chief value officers.

Embracing the Sustainability Agenda

Albert Lopez, Global Head of Business Services and Outsourcing at BDO Global, emphasizes the importance of CFOs embracing the wider concept of value. The research underscores the positive stories of CFOs from around the world who are actively driving the sustainability agenda within their organizations. By fulfilling this key role, the finance profession contributes to ensuring a positive future.

Changing Perceptions

Clive Webb, Head of Business Management at ACCA, stresses the need for sustainable organizations and highlights the fundamental role of CFOs in achieving this objective. He advocates for a shift in perception, transforming the image of CFOs and finance teams from being viewed as gatekeepers (“Dr No”) to enablers (“Dr How”). The research reveals the encouraging progress of finance teams in aligning with this agenda.

Conclusion

The research conducted by ACCA and BDO highlights the evolving role of CFOs, expanding beyond their traditional financial responsibilities. CFOs are now positioned as key drivers of value creation, strategic leaders, and advisers within their organizations. By adopting a value-centric approach and embracing the sustainability agenda, CFOs play a crucial role in shaping sustainable organizations for the future.

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