The role of the CFO in the organization is changing and transforming. The new global order, regulatory challenges, advent of tech and fluctuating financial cycles in the 21st century and the current decade, in particular, are transforming the definition of CFO from Chief Financial Officer to Chief Futuristic OfficerSethurathnam Ravi – former chairman of BSE, Founder & Managing Partner of Ravi Rajan & Co
The role of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has evolved considerably over the years, and the 21st century is no exception. The CFO has traditionally been responsible for managing a company’s financial operations, such as accounting, financial planning, and analysis, and financial reporting. However, in today’s rapidly changing business landscape, the CFO’s role is transforming to become more strategic and future-oriented. The CFO is now being viewed as a “Chief Futuristic Officer,” responsible for driving the company’s growth and sustainability in the years ahead.
The evolving business landscape of the 21st century is presenting new challenges to companies, which require a more strategic approach to financial management. For instance, globalisation has increased the complexity of financial transactions, making it more challenging for companies to manage their financial risks. Additionally, advances in technology are changing the way companies do business, with a growing emphasis on digital transformation and data analytics. Moreover, regulatory challenges have become more complex, with a growing number of regulatory frameworks that companies need to comply with. All these factors are forcing CFOs to adopt a more strategic approach to financial management and to become more involved in driving the company’s future growth.
One of the most critical roles of the CFO as Chief Futuristic Officer is to provide strategic financial leadership to the company. This involves collaborating with other senior executives to develop and implement long-term business strategies that align with the company’s goals and vision. The CFO needs to have a deep understanding of the company’s business model and the external environment to provide insights on the financial implications of various strategic decisions. Moreover, they need to ensure that the company has the financial resources to execute these strategies successfully.
Another important role of the CFO as Chief Futuristic Officer is to embrace technology and digital transformation. Digital technology is rapidly changing the way companies do business, with a growing emphasis on automation, data analytics, and artificial intelligence. CFOs need to have a deep understanding of these technologies and their implications for the company’s financial operations. They need to embrace digital transformation and lead the company in adopting new technologies that can enhance the company’s financial performance and competitiveness.
Furthermore, the CFO as Chief Futuristic Officer needs to develop a comprehensive risk management framework for the company. This involves identifying potential risks and developing strategies to mitigate them. CFOs need to have a deep understanding of the risks facing the company, including financial, operational, reputational, and regulatory risks. They need to work closely with other executives to develop risk management strategies that align with the company’s goals and vision.
The CFO as Chief Futuristic Officer also needs to foster a culture of innovation within the company. This involves promoting a mindset that encourages experimentation, creativity, and continuous improvement. CFOs need to identify new opportunities for growth and help the company to capitalise on them. They need to work with other executives to develop new business models, products, and services that can enhance the company’s financial performance.
The CFO has to deal actively with auditors, rating agencies, board and stakeholders as they are responsible for the balance sheet and disclosures.
Finally, the CFO as Chief Futuristic Officer needs to communicate effectively with stakeholders. This involves communicating the company’s financial performance to investors, analysts, and other stakeholders. CFOs need to be able to explain complex financial information in a way that is easy to understand. They also need to be able to communicate the company’s strategic vision and plans for the future.
In conclusion, the evolving business landscape of the 21st century is transforming the role of the CFO from Chief Financial Officer to Chief Futuristic Officer.
CFOs need to adopt a more strategic approach to financial management and become more involved in driving the company’s future growth. They need to provide strategic financial leadership, embrace technology and digital transformation, develop a comprehensive risk management framework, foster a culture of innovation, and communicate effectively with stakeholders. By embracing these roles, CFOs can help their companies to succeed in the years ahead.
Sethurathnam Ravi is a practising chartered accountant and an independent director of many large public companies whose views and ideas have been instrumental in framing policy