The role of the CFO has changed dramatically over the last decade. The CFO’s focus has shifted from measuring, recording and reporting performance to responsibility for value creation. That shift is reflected in the criteria that Accenture uses to determine its Swedish CFO of the Year award, the 11th of which was presented at an awards dinner held at the Historical Museum in Stockholm on November 10th. The theme this year was the impact of digitalisation on the role of the CFO and the finance function.
In creating the CFO of the Year awards, Accenture set out to do something different. First, by recognising the increasing importance of the CFO’s role. And second by making the assessment according to comparison of some metrics that were identified as key to reaching high performance. To achieve that, we use the Accenture High Performance Business Framework. This comprises of a carefully selected range of KPIs that enable us to understand the relative performance of a business against its peers. Our assessment of the top 100 companies in Sweden by revenue using the Framework is supplemented with qualitative questionnaires and interviews. This process leads to a shortlist of five candidates. A jury led this year by the highly respected business leader Anders Ullberg and made up from representatives from Accenture, sponsors Anaplan and the leading Swedish business magazine, Affärsvärlden, then deliberates to select the winner.
The choice of this year’s winner, Carolina Dybeck Happe from ASSA ABLOY, shows how a leading company can outperform in a relatively flat sector, achieving outstanding global growth and managing a number of large and complex acquisitions. Carolina’s success shows how successful CFOs today need to understand the value drivers of their enterprise and how to navigate and manage growth and risk accordingly. The CFO is now much more market facing and concerned with value creation than they have ever been.
And as digitalisation continues to disrupt and transform all businesses, that new role for the CFO will move further into the spotlight. As attendees at the awards dinner heard from Professor Lars Strannegård of Stockholm Business School, digitalisation creates the need for new capabilities and approaches that are far removed from traditional accountancy-driven skill sets and knowledge.
Accenture sees three main areas where digitalisation is changing the role of the CFO. The first of these is the change in how companies go to market, with new channels requiring CFOs to find new ways of reporting, tracking business performance and forecasting.
Second, digital enables more effective financial processes through technologies such as robotics, machine learning, automation and so on. CFOs must understand and embrace these to keep pace with a digital business world.
And finally, as CFOs’ responsibilities extend beyond the finance function to areas such as procurement, IT and even business development, they need to preside over significant changes in operating models that are required for all enterprises – regardless of industry or sector – to become truly digital businesses.For more insights on the role of CFOs and the Digital impact read - Death by Digital