The four hats of a chief financial officer

The finance industry is facing a radical transformation. Once again, computer innovations will transform the business, but the breadth and depth of the changes that are about to take place will not be measured against past experience.

It's all about digitalisation and automation - cloud computing is the trend, the internet of things, as well as Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain. However, it is not just about procuring additional hardware or adding an extra layer to the software stack that a company commands; it is about growth across the board, the merging of previously separate systems.

The changes, which are mostly discussed under the title "Finance 4.0", mainly concern the interfaces: Software silos must be broken down; the algorithms and data that make up a system must be opened up to other systems with the help of programming interfaces. In this way, financial transactions and the associated documentation processes can be automated across companies.

With Finance 4.0, the role of the Chief Financial Officer is changing: they no longer look back, but instead look forward. Their primary task is no longer accounting or documenting what has happened, but they focus on shaping the future. Thanks to the automation of expenditure management, resources are freed up and can be used for strategic tasks. According to a classification by Deloitte, a typical CFO has four roles to fill. While two of these roles, accountant and trustee, look backwards, the other two roles are related to the future - impulse generator and strategist. According to Deloitte, the latter roles are becoming increasingly important. This is also confirmed by a survey conducted in Europe in 2019 by consulting firm Bearingpoint. By interviewing 163 CFOs from seven European countries, it is revealed that these managers and executives are preparing themselves for new professional challenges. The longer they work, the less they see themselves as "administrative", and more as "business-oriented" and "strategic".

Read more about the four hats of the chief financial officer in our whitepaper: Finance 4.0 - How the fourth wave is reshaping the financial centre.

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