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Over the last few decades, the role of the CFO has undergone a profound shift. The historical tasks of the finance function such as books and records, financial reporting, and statutory compliance continue to be important but are now taken for granted by CEOs. The CFO of today and tomorrow must be able to take financial data and use it to influence operational decision making and strategy. But how?

There’s no doubt that the historical tasks of the finance function such as books and records, financial reporting and statutory compliance are still of fundamental importance. These tasks continue to be mission critical and fall squarely under the duties of the finance team, and consequently, the CFO that leads the team. But while these CFO responsibilities continue to be relevant, these tasks are now taken for granted by CEOs. This does not mean they are any less important, it’s just that they are now seen as minimum requirements for finance.

What has significantly changed, however, is that the CFO of today and of the future must be able to take financial data and use it to influence operational decision-making and strategy. CFOs must possess many more skills than just the technical accounting background of the past. Today’s CFOs are also effectively Chief Operating Officers in addition to their finance role. They are business partners to the CEO, who help guide and influence decision making using the financial context as an integral driver of such choices.