The CFO of Tomorrow: New Report Reveals Changing CFO Responsibilities

CFO responsibilities are changing. Partly, this is due to the steady evolution of the industry—including new forms of automation, and a broadening definition of a CFO’s duties and how they relate to the rest of the C suite. Subsequently, it’s due to COVID-19, the pressures of controlling business spending responsibly, and the pressure to adapt to a world that seems to have changed overnight.

What does the CFO of tomorrow look like?

Undoubtedly, today’s CFO is a tech-enabled, strategic business partner. For this reason, Procurify sat down with 12 panelists to discuss the role of the CFO in 2020 and beyond. In this case, all of our panelists are financial leaders at fast-growing, tech companies. They’re among the vanguard when it comes to changes in the industry. Additionally, all of them were forced to adapt when the pandemic hit.

From analyzing hours of interviews, we were able to identify three major takeaways.

What will a CFO be responsible for in the future?

CFO responsibilities include mastering data and becoming fluent in technology

It’s not just about month-end close. As more of the nuts-and-bolts of financial management gets handed over to automation, CFOs are taking on broader roles—learning a bit about how every part of the business functions, and helping them all work together smoothly.

“The pace of change is so quick in tech. … To truly have an equal seat at the leadership table, finance leaders need to understand marketing, sales, product, and engineering. Strategic financial partners do more than just budget. Gaps will continue to grow between departments and finance needs to reduce that friction and increase communications.”

– Bevan van der Berg, VP Finance, Procurify

How does remote work impact the CFO?

Remote work can make your team stronger—so long as you manage the risks of isolation and burnout

Technology like Zoom doesn’t just help people overcome the self-isolation blues. Finance and operations teams now use a plethora of digital tools for productivity and efficiency, including automating purchasing. Technology can contribute to—rather than hinder—greater connectivity within professional teams.

“Connection with people is one of the things that has really fascinated me about remote work. I’m closer to my team remotely than I ever was in person. Everything’s really intentional now … People are more intimate and more open to sharing. Jumping on Zoom makes us much more approachable and everyone is more authentic.”

Jenny Bloom, Chief Financial Officer, Zapier

What’s a CFO’s role as a strategic business partner?

One of your top CFO duties going into 2021 is keeping communication channels open

Simply hiding away in a back office working on scenario planning and building a fintech stack and is no longer an option for financial leaders. Today’s CFO has a hands-on role in how they run the organization. That includes taking on a proactive role and making sure communication channels between teams stay open.

“In terms of day to day operations, I often talk to other finance professionals about the importance of being a good business partner. Historically, finance was much more of a back office or technical accounting focus. As more of those areas are handled by technology, finance executives need to be more business focused, facilitate conversation with the other organizational leaders, and help them understand how the numbers impact the future.”

Corinne Hua, Chief Financial Officer, Thinkific

To learn how top tech CFOs are putting these points into practice, download our full report: The Future of the CFO.