What Changes Are Coming To The CFO Role? 10 Experts Weigh In

Many companies have a chief financial officer who manages a variety of functions, from overseeing cash flow to monitoring the business’ financial health and taking corrective actions as needed. But as with many other professions, technology and a changing economy are leading to the evolution of the CFO role.

Over the next few years, companies are likely to begin altering and expanding the responsibilities assigned to their CFOs, so it’s wise for financial professionals to be prepared. Below, 10 members of Forbes Finance Council offer their predictions on how the CFO role will be changing over the next few years.

Photos courtesy of the individual members.

1. More Dependence On Technology

CFOs are now on the front line of technology innovation, and it’s a unique position for them. They’re accustomed to driving process innovation, but technology hasn’t always been a part of it. With the push for digital transformation, CFOs will be more dependent on data analysis to deliver organizational value. This will require them to rethink how they leverage not only technology but people as well. - Terrence McCrossan, Oversight Systems

2. A Merging Of The COO And CFO Roles

It’s common practice to have a COO and CFO serving separate, distinct functions despite needing an obvious alignment. In the future, I see these positions morphing into one. A CFO can and should fulfill financial and operational duties since they are so often attached at the hip. - Zack Cook, Rigor

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3. Expanded Application Of Performance-Based Metrics

The role of the CFO has always been about numbers, and more recently it’s been focused on applying performance-based metrics across the organization. This will continue to evolve to further include processes and technologies to deliver these metrics on a near-real-time basis to further drive the value delivered. - Tim Steinkopf, Centrify Corporation

4. Integration Into Every Aspect Of The Business

CFOs are now having to expand into operations, IT and HR. CFOs are required to be integrated into every aspect of the business to drive financial results in the right direction. The role of tracking and reporting results has expanded to driving results, strategically aligning with operations, inspiring human capital and leading data automation to boost up-to-date information exchange for decision-making. - Geanette Rodriguez-Ojeda

5. Enhanced Focus On Strategic Issues

CFOs used to be focused mostly on the accounting aspects of a business. With the rise of the controller as a solid career path for good accountants, CFOs have begun to focus more on operational and strategic issues and are spinning off their historical accounting duties to controllers. CFOs will more and more become the No. 2 person behind the CEO in the management of the company. - Chris Tierney, Moore Colson CPAs and Advisors

6. More Responsibility For Increasing Margins/Profitability

As the overall landscape of business shifts more toward data and automation, a change in the entire C-level corporate structure is inevitable. While the CFO role used to be all-encompassing in terms of finance, accounting and administration, this role is going to become more about increasing margins and profitability through the use of data and automation. - Jonathan Moisan, Advertise Purple

7. A Need To Understand Blockchain

As blockchain-based solutions are bound to take over many functions in finance and accounting, the role of the chief financial officer will require a much larger understanding of technologies and how these are integrated into all elements of the business. Simultaneously, these technologies are capable of extending commercial functions across borders without the need for a human custodian—i.e., the CFO. - Christian Kameir, Sustany Capital

8. Increased Ownership Of Business Intelligence For Proactive Decisions

CFOs will need to develop and own the entire business intelligence capability for the company and run a predictive finance function versus a traditionally reflective one. This will require them to be skilled in available BI tools, develop deeper service-level partnerships with customer insights and operations teams, and support programmatic decisions by triangulating financial, market and customer data. - Rohit Bassi, Corridor Capital

9. A Turn Toward Customer Experience

It’s been widely predicted that CFOs will play a key role in tech transformation efforts. From our perspective though, that time has already come, and CFOs who don’t have a digital strategy are at risk of falling behind. With tech transformation underway, the best CFOs are now turning an eye toward customer experience since it involves how customers transact and interact with financial ops. - Jared King, Invoiced

10. A Shift Toward Advanced Projections

Small-business CFOs will focus more on projections along with calculating things like hurdle rates, opportunity costs and capitalization rates. At this time, CFOs often focus on complying with accounting regulations and building financial statements. However, there will be a huge shift toward being capable of making advanced projections in the next few years. - Justin Goodbread, Heritage Investors

Forbes Finance Council is an invitation-only, fee-based organization for senior-level finance executives.