The role of the CFO has undergone significant transformation in recent years, allowing companies of all sizes to be more strategic about operations and growth.

No longer cloistered number crunchers, today’s Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) are assuming a more significant role in shaping the strategy, vision and even communication of their organizations.

Thanks to recent advances, such as continuous accounting, predictive analytics, and the increased complexity of today’s businesses, there’s a greater need for guidance from CFOs about what companies should prioritize from a strategic standpoint.

In a 2015 KPMG survey of CEOs, 63% said that the CFO’s role would become increasingly important to them over the next three years. By 2017, that same survey reported that 34% of CEOs view CFOs as potential successors.

Here’s a look at what has changed, and how CFOs can leverage their knowledge to positively impact the business.

INCREASED STRATEGIC INPUT

CFOs and their finance departments traditionally spend a considerable amount of their time collecting, sorting, and distilling data for management.

Today, sophisticated software does much of that work automatically, offering companies more accurate and timely indicators of how the business is performing relative to previous periods and targets.

THE UPSHOT?

Because these insights depend on data, CFOs are more frequently called on to interpret trends, introduce and implement technology, and accurately communicate options to other decision makers and stakeholders. Accounting functions as a whole now largely focus on employing data about the company, its customers, and the broader industry to more effectively pursue opportunities and sidestep potential risks.

CFOs increasingly spearhead these efforts since they have a line of sight into all aspects of the business, becoming significant contributors to company strategy—as opposed to simply reporting the current state.

The challenge for many CFOs, however, is that while there are many options for modernization, most companies are still dealing with legacy systems that make it difficult for them to take full advantage of the technologies available. CFOs have to be able to work with Chief Information Officers (CIOs) to inform the business on which technological investments make sense strategically and the financial impact of implementation.

A MORE INTEGRATED FUNCTION

For many of today’s companies, sustainable growth is not simply centered around major product breakthroughs or large-scale operational changes. For an organization to truly thrive, silos have to be broken down—product development, finance, marketing, human resources, operations, and other functions all need to be on the same page.

Indeed, without a cross-functional view it can be difficult to optimize and move forward.

CFOs are now bridging the gap by turning data-driven insights into more complete narratives—framing not only what’s happening now, but a leading the vision of what needs to happen in the future to remain competitive.

Regulatory developments have also made integration essential. The advent of new measures for the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) involve significant documentation and the transfer of information across multiple departments. Today’s compliance measures necessitate integrated reporting with a traceable path

across multiple departments.

CHALLENGING GOLIATH WITH PART-TIME CFOS

In an age of financial technology, smaller companies are able to punch far above their weight when it comes to measuring key performance indicators, generating reports, and forecasting with more precision.

This shift in the landscape has ratcheted up demand for outsourced CFO services among modestly sized enterprises. Why? It’s simple: outsourced services give companies access to the expertise of seasoned financed professionals—as well as advanced finance and data analysis tools—without the typically significant expense of employing a CFO full time. Moreover, outside CFOs can often bring an unbiased perspective to the strategic table.

It’s a new era in finance departments, and the changing CFO role is a sign of the times. The focus on innovation over obsolescence, embracing technology, and seeking new avenues to create value has the potential to generate more opportunity for businesses as a whole.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to rethink how the CFO—and your whole C-suite, for that matter—can integrate to keep your company moving in the right direction and help chart new channels for growth.

Fifth Third Bank hired Joe Yurosek in December 2017 as California Market President to lead the Golden State’s commercial vertical and market expansion strategy. An Orange County native and long-time resident, Joe has more than 25 years of banking experience; he joined Fifth Third from Comerica, where he served as market president for the Orange County region. He also was responsible for corporate middle-market strategy in Orange County, Long Beach and San Diego and co-led sponsor coverage strategy for Southern California. Joe holds a bachelor’s degree from California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo and earned his MBA from University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. While you might not know Fifth Third Bank’s name, you’ll recognize their faces! Fifth Third is making a significant investment in the California market by hiring local, tenured talent and delivering value-add advice, products and services to help clients with their most pressing financial, growth, and risk management challenges. Fifth Third entered the California market in 2001 and expanded its focus in 2017 to include Commercial Banking, with teams today in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and Northern California. Fifth Third Bank has been looking towards the future and helping businesses shape what’s next for over 160 years—with more to come. Learn more at 53.com. As one of the country’s 10 largest banks, Fifth Third provides sophisticated solutions and expert guidance. At the same time, the bank is empowered to make local decisions and work from a foundation of strong, community connections. This is the commercial banking value that only Fifth Third can deliver.

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