Skip to main content

Crunch time for CFOs: The CFO role isn’t just changing, It’s expanding.

CFOs, are you ready to be exponential?

“Change in the CFO role” is a familiar topic. But this change? At this pace? It’s exponential—and today’s Finance leaders will likely need to be exponential to meet it head-on. As macro dynamics and business implications interact to shape strategy, the enterprise of 2030 will likely expect more from the CFO. Are you ready?

The pressure to reinvent, rethink, and reshape is intensifying—and boards, CEOs, and other executives will look to the CFO and the Finance team to help plan for the future.

To answer this call, we are likely to see an exponential CFO take center stage—an executive who can lead the organisation by accelerating value creation, driving enterprise-wide operational excellence, and shaping talent experience and culture.

Look ahead to 2030. While no one can predict a certain future, what could doing business look like?

 

1. Value creation

The ways companies create shareholder and stakeholder value in the future will be complex with avenues for new business models, products, services, and value levers that transcend traditional business boundaries.

2. Operations

How companies balance efficiency and resilience—and seek to optimise both—is likely not only a factor of corporate hygiene, but also a critical success factor in the ability to pivot to new value creation opportunities.

3. Talent and culture

How companies integrate the human agenda into their corporate agenda may need to be profoundly different with human-technology collaboration, new work and worker expectations, and growing prevalence of multi-generational work teams.

Macro dynamics and business implications

 

As macro market forces shape the shifts in how businesses operate and create value, what is needed and expected of the CFO and the finance team is likely to not only evolve but expand. Change at this pace involves a constant interplay among macro forces bringing unique business implications.

  • Technology: Technological innovation and user adoption, overall, are accelerating at an extraordinary pace.
  • Demographics: Ageing populations and generational differences tend to be driving new dynamics in the workforce and consumer behaviours.
  • Environment: Growing environmental instability appears to be driving  behaviour change across companies, investors, governments, and consumers.
  • Geopolitics: Rising economic nationalism and trade protectionism pose potential challenges to future international economic cooperation.
  • Capital markets: Shifting fiscal policy and quantitative tightening measures seem to have ended the era of zero-rate capital.

 

 

 

  • Business model disruption: Industry competition intensifies, forcing companies to innovate within and beyond industry boundaries, leading to new ways to grow and new business risks to manage.
  • Growing performance expectations: Rising pressure to deliver on a broad spectrum of performance beyond just financial measures.
  • Tougher capital decisions: Increasingly more complex and uncertain trade-offs between investments in short-term performance and long-term growth across M&A, IPO, and infrastructure.
  • Evolving regulatory requirements: Growing needs for greater transparency and frequency of reporting—often beyond financials—from regulatory bodies. 
  • Shifting stakeholder needs: Customers, employees, network partners, and regulators have more influence over business decisions than ever before.

 

Help wanted: Exponential CFO

 

Let's explore a hypothetical job posting of the future.

Imagine the CEO and board sitting down to write the job description for their future CFO—someone who can deal with both unexpected events and long-term structural changes all at once. Who can “do more, in new ways, with less?” How might that job description read?

Seeking a visionary leader who can navigate accelerated change, minimise business risks, and drive value creation as our organisation grows. Our ideal candidate will thrive in uncertainty—and set-up our organisation to thrive as well—while fostering a purpose-driven culture and developing a highly diverse team adept at collaborating with machines.

In this role, you will be a trusted business leader who joins the C-team in forging strategic business decisions using capabilities such as:

  1. Market sensing
  2. Integrated performance management
  3. Dynamic scenario planning
  4. Capital optimisation 
  5. Innovative growth strategy and execution
  6. Strategic Cost Management

You will also serve as an innovative, efficient functional leader who helps Finance function in new ways by relying on capabilities such as:

  1. Machine-enabled autonomous process
  2. Talent experience management
  3. Information on demand
  4. Dynamic service delivery
  5. Innovation management
  6. Enterprise operations

Does this sound like you? If not, what will it take to get you there?

How to get started?

 

Becoming an exponential CFO and taking your finance team along with you on the journey, likely won’t happen all at once. It’s a progression that may include mutually supporting changes to technologies, ways of working, relationships, and mindsets. As you set out on your journey, consider:

  • Change can start at the core—where existing capabilities can become stronger and faster using the technology you already have.
  • Adding new technologies can permit even more innovation. As your systems become more synchronised, you’ll likely be able to match technology progress with changes to business, operating, and customer models.
  • Eventually, the entire finance team should be able to serve the business with a new mindset built around accelerated value creation.

It's Crunch time.

Let’s sum it up: As a CFO, you may feel like you are operating in a different world. Everyone else might be feeling this way too, and a lot of them may want you to help them understand and manage it. We’re likely past the point of “the same but more.” Defining something as “exponential” invites comparisons with math. Not just growing, but growing at increased scale. Our use of that term here is no accident.

To become an exponential CFO is two challenges in one: to recognise that the demands on you are already expanding that way, and to evolve your own approach and innovate your capabilities to keep pace. When you accomplish that, your dual roles as both business and functional leader all merge into a single approach that can match the velocity of the moment and accelerates out ahead of it. There’s a new inflection point coming into focus. This could be the time to find out what you have under the hood.

Deloitte can help

Our Finance Labs explore the “art of the possible” and define your Finance Transformation strategy, bringing to life potential use cases, road map priorities, and future-state benefits. Contact us to learn more.

Explore other reports and guides in our Crunch time series, along with inspirational Finance Transformation case studies.

Did you find this useful?

Thanks for your feedback

If you would like to help improve Deloitte.com further, please complete a 3-minute survey