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With business getting riskier, the CFO’s role is increasingly more crucial in corporate decision making

Published on Saturday, 16 May 2015
Winnan Leung, commerce finance and accounting division, ConnectedGroup

Having spoken with a number of senior level accounting and finance professionals over the years, I know that certain times or circumstances call for different leadership skills. So what abilities should young would-be executives equip themselves with as they eye companies, functions and jobs? What skills should they hone as they aim to advance their careers? Tough questions.

These trends differ with each company, location and industry. But I have noticed clear signals about how chief financial officer jobs are evolving. Once people reach that level, technical and functional expertise matters less than leadership and a strong grasp of business fundamentals. CFOs need to know how to develop risk management strategies throughout the company.

Prior to the early 2000s, the typical CFO was mainly responsible for reporting the numbers, measuring performance and managing compliance, but their view was relatively narrow and confined to their department.

In today’s global economy, regional differences loom larger than ever and multinationals as well as medium-sized businesses no longer have the luxury of keeping finance issues within geographical boundaries. Managing company money has become increasingly complex.

The top finance jobs now involve helping the CEO and business heads find new opportunities and assess their strategic and financial merits and risks. A once-obscure discipline, risk management is now squarely on the agenda and CFOs are now ready to take on the role of an executive business partner to the CEO to assist the growth and development of the organisation.

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