CFO 'Changing Roles & Expectations'

CFO 'Changing Roles & Expectations'

Sandeep Mantri, SVP & CFO, Datamatics, 0

He is known for range of expertize in digital and technology, media, manufacturing and professional consulting.

Senior Executive, leader, pioneer & strategist with close to 19 years of post-qualification experience across diverse industries including Digital and technology / Media / manufacturing / Professional consulting. Expertise spans across a gamut of areas including Financial Controls, Corporate Governance, Funding, M & A, Accounts, Strategic / Financial planning, Auditing, MIS and System Implementation. Over the years, I have excelled in the field of process standardization & system implementation, while bringing global best practices into the organization that have led to cost optimization and effective controls.

“I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” -Jimmy Dean.

This applies to all of us as professional as well as a person, we have to change with time and certainly there is no other option. Change is the only constant and adaption is the only solution.

The core of any organisation is finance and heart is the CFO.

Investor fraternity always look at CEO and CFO and put their money in enterprises where they feel that these two are ethical and forward thinkers.

Top most priority for a CFO remains value creation for shareholders.

The CFO has always played a key role in any organisation, from being a gate keeper traditionally to now a partner in sustained growth.

The world is changing so the CFO function is also spreading its wings.

If we go twenty-twenty five years back, largely CFO was more a traditional accountant whose job was to report whatever has happened and keep compliances in time.

And if we see today, the function is completely transformed and there are new roles and function a CFO need to perform. Although Accounting and finance remains fundamental for a CFO but the focus is moved to many other critical areas.

The global pandemic is changing the role of the CFO, broadening its scope and influence in areas such as strategy execution and performance insight. The CFO has to focus more on ensuring enough liquidity to sail smoothly with the winds. The leadership capabilities are required more than any other times in our life, he has to balance between long term strategy and day-today operations, and has to adapt and re-forecast to the changing situations more rapidly.

Let me outline what Role a CFO will play in future in a complex business environment
Primary focus on stakeholder and investor management rather than safeguarding and reporting, create value by helping in increasing productivity / efficiency in operations using more and more automation and AI tools.

Provide a regular insight in to the completion and changing dynamics of the industry in which an enterprise operates.
Lead business strategy formulation, validation, and execution From historic-based cost control to growth optimisation Monitor all aspects of the strategic objectives of the organisations and reports in time to correct the course. Forward thinking rather than retrospective reporting Increasingly have the CEO role as the next progression in their career development.

With the business environments becoming more and more complex, Role of CFO is also becoming very critical to the success of the enterprise, with a good CEO-CFO combo an enterprise can create unthinkable value for shareholders.

Few thing become keys here
Digitisation / automations initiatives/ Data driven finance
Using robotics software (RPA) and Artificial intelligence, however a caution, you have to have a right talent in place to use the same, otherwise the journey to digital first-data driven finance will become difficult. Automation will help enterprises in faster decision making, CFO should fix priority area where automation is quintessential, within finance automation in sales/ billing /receivable processes will help deliver a finer customer experience, automation of business planning and MIS process will help in faster decision making. More and more digitisation will be helpful as CXO suite can spend more time on forward thinking rather understanding past data.

CFOs must manage vast quantities of data and present it in a real time, clear, accessible and understandable way. By leveraging their CFO’s financial expertise, deep knowledge of data and strategic approach to innovation, enterprises will continue to generate value and long-term growth.

Outsource with value creation
Focus more on core and outsource the non-core activities like data processing, always ask yourself what additional value you will get by outsourcing.

Governance and compliances
For a global enterprise, having a robust system of governance is very essential, compliances across are increasing rapidly and becoming connected, Create a governance system which helps in meeting increasing statutory compliances and have enough internal control and checks.

Pressure is mounting on CFO due to increasing burden of statutory compliances across the globe and any significant non-compliance will lead to wrong perception about company and ultimately erosion in value.

Liquidity and cost management
Keeping a tight control on liquidity and receivables Constantly monitor the costs and help reduce wherever feasible without compromising quality., evaluating alternates and decide on the same.

In-organic Growth
This is one of the most critical function which CFO has, this include identifying, negotiating and closing good opportunities in the market to create value for the company.

So, what makes a successful CFO, here are my summarised thoughts
1. A CFO needs to be a visible and visionary leader in the business, an influencer and a great communicator.
2. A CFO should have good understanding of business.
3. A CFO should be good in adoption of new technologies which help deliver value.
4. At the end, A CFO should be forward thinker.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”– Walt Disney

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” Helen Keller.

So to be a successful CFO, you have to have a vision.