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The CFO’s Agenda

I was delighted to have the opportunity to join a webinar this week for the alumni of our Deloitte Private Next Generation CFO Programme, which is a fantastic programme close to my heart supporting finance professionals in building their careers and networks. The session focused on the learnings from Deloitte Private research conducted through interviewing over 80 current CFOs as to their priorities and challenges, both from a business and personal perspective, in the current market environment.

Reflecting on the session (and not wishing to steal the thunder of the research which we are publishing shortly) I was really proud of the Deloitte team who had invested so much time in interviewing the CFOs, collating the responses and assimilating and fashioning the research into a thematic and interesting output. It was obvious to me that the virtual attendees appreciated this as well, as they were engaged and attentive throughout, despite clearly having very busy day jobs. That engagement was reflected in some positive challenge to the findings, which resulted in healthy debate around the role of the CFO versus the COO; where the responsibility for ESG lies. The group concluded that ESG has multiple aspects which require the whole C-Suite to engage with, with CFOs needing to be closer to the data on value creation, to the costs of meeting impending regulatory changes, and alive to green financing options.

The Deloitte team suggested the CFO wears multiple hats, including both the Chief Performance Officer, driving growth through the usage of data to enable better business decisions and Chief Change Officer, driving organisational change through influence and funding upskilling of the business. I’ve seen both aspects of this within my own clients as well. The programme alumni described how they’ve seen rapid changes in the make-up of their finance functions, being augmented to include data science skill sets to allow finance to generate deeper insights from data, which has promoted the role of the function within the business. However, there was caution noted in respect of the challenges to finance of meeting increasing requirements from stakeholders to provide data, which it was acknowledged can be difficult, time consuming and sometimes expensive to gather. I was pleased to hear an old-fashioned response to this emerging challenge for increasing amounts of data, sometimes we need to apply good common sense!

Overall, a really high-quality session driven by the effort made by all involved, well done!!