What makes a CFO successful in 2021?

On the 17th of May, employers can finally welcome employees back to the office in the UK!

But while we’ve been working from the home office for the past 12+ months, a lot has changed. There will be a different working environment with new requirements that we are now stepping into.

If there is anything the recent lockdown has taught us, it is that as finance professionals, we must be able to adapt to unforeseen circumstances which means the CFO has to adopt an agile mindset. Agility and adaptability must also come into play when reporting and presenting recommendations based on financial insights. In times where everything moves fast and changes rapidly, the financial state of your business can also suddenly change from one day to the next.

As a result of this, financial insights have never been more critical to your business than they are now! By being agile, you will be able to deliver reports and recommendations needed in time for your management to act on the data. And this is where the true value of the finance function lies and what will determine how successful you will be in 2021.     

But how can you deliver fast, reliable financial insights in times where everything can change tomorrow?

The answer is simple; by optimizing the way we work in finance.

If you want to stay relevant as a CFO, here is what you need to do:

Adopt an agile mindset

It is no longer enough for the finance department to deliver data that describes what has happened to your company financially. Now, you need to provide data that describes what could and should happen.

During the lockdowns this past year, we have seen an increasing need for changing reporting, forecasting more frequently, and getting new information. You always had to act fast and deliver insights swiftly because if you waited, the situation could be completely different the next day. This is where the agile mindset becomes essential. If you don’t have the ability to adapt to the changes the past year have brought to the world of finance, you will lag behind.

Digitization and automated processes are becoming the new normal because management needs you to deliver real-time insights and recommendations instead of being a number cruncher. Digital tools reduce time spent on financial consolidation and reporting, for instance. This is the reason why digital tools will play a big role in the work of finance professionals to get their jobs done in time.

Build up new skills to stay relevant

As reporting requirements are changing, so is your role as a finance professional, and this ultimately means that you need to focus on developing new skills to stay relevant. You should continuously cultivate your analytical, leadership, people, and business skills to become more agile and increase your performance in an environment that requires you to adapt to new and unforeseen circumstances quickly. Below, you see the skills you as a CFO should focus on building up in 2021.

  1. Analytical skills: These are the finance professionals’ home turf. The analytical skills are probably where you consider yourself strongest. You have practiced these skills since your student years and built a solid, professional toolbox. But you can always extend the toolbox, so you are well informed of the latest trends and tools.
  2. Business Skills: If you learn to understand the business you are working in, you will be able to speak the same language as your business shareholders, meaning you will effectively communicate what financial data means to the business.
  3. Leadership skills: To effect change in the finance function, the CFO must take leadership of implementing changes by, for example, building up employee’s professional skills to drive the team forward.
  4. People skills: Working and communicating with people is becoming an essential part of being a CFO. The big change lies in how you and your team should work and communicate going forward. You must shift from communicating what has happened to communicating what can and needs to happen, and as the CFO, you must be the facilitator of this change. Read more about skill development here.

If you want to know more about how you should work to optimize your skills at as a finance professional to succeed driving proactive decisions, join us for our webinar “The CFO Agenda for 2021: Skill changes, key competencies, and value drivers” on the May 20th. Sign up here!