In brief

In brief

  • The CFO’s role has expanded dramatically, and looking ahead the scale and the pace of decision-making are among the biggest changes they face.
  • In response, more and more finance functions are assuming the role of a central nervous system for the enterprise.
  • With “sensors at the edges,” finance is well positioned to guide the business in architecting enterprise-wide value and a competitive advantage.


The importance and scope of the CFO’s role has expanded dramatically in recent years. CFOs and their finance teams now drive the cost and growth agendas for many enterprises. However, as we move from pandemic-related volatility to recovery, it is not surprising that CFOs are looking at the world differently.

Increasingly, leading finance functions have begun to act like a responsive central nervous system for their enterprise. Like our own central nervous system, which operates with sensors at the edges, finance guides and helps control the business. Finance takes in massive amounts of information, analyzes, and evaluates which actions to take, and then informs the business.

The key is to identify and invest in the right skills to create a responsive “central nervous system” for the enterprise. Finance is well-positioned to assume this role. One built on:

  1. an intelligent finance operating model
  2. high-speed data and technology, and
  3. high caliber talent with problem-solving skills and deep financial knowledge.
Seventy-three percent of CFO Now research respondents say that of all the C-suite executives, the CFO is best placed to ensure the resilience of the organization in today’s operating climate.

– ACCENTURE RESEARCH - CFO Now: Breakthrough speed for breakout value

Building a strong central nervous system for the enterprise

Key to delivering on this new role and expanded responsibility for finance is having the right foundation:

An intelligent finance operating model: Built on real-time processes and agile tools and systems, finance is empowered to act on change and mounting business demands with greater speed, ease, and confidence. This helps finance bring leadership and a strategic focus to identifying and unlocking new sources of growth.

Intelligent Finance Operations: The CFO’s most powerful asset.

High-speed data and technology: Breakthrough speed drives breakout value. This is also true when it comes to data and technology. Having quick access to trusted internal and external data and smart technologies can help transform a business model for the digital age.

High caliber talent: Highly skilled and deeply knowledgeable finance people are the linchpin of a more data-driven enterprise. Strong problem-solving skills, a collaborative and adaptive mindset, and the ability to work on highly complex issues is critical.

27%

of finance leaders say that inconsistent, inaccurate, or inaccessible data is stopping them from realizing their full potential as drivers of strategic change.

88%

of Accenture Technology Vision 2021 survey respondents believe putting technology in the hands of employees is critical to igniting innovation across their organization.

As stakeholder expectations continue to grow, the role of a responsive central nervous system is a next step in the expanding duties of finance. Finance can provide crucial insight, timely guidance, and greater control to the business as it navigates an increasingly complex and disrupted landscape. No small task as CFOs and their finance functions look to architect breakout value and a more resilient competitive advantage.

Cherene Powell

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, CFO & Enterprise Value


Paul Prendergast

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, CFO & Enterprise Value Europe Lead


Raghvendra Singh

Managing Director – CFO & Enterprise Value, Growth Markets Lead

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CFO Now: Breakthrough speed for breakout value
Intelligent Finance Operations: The CFO’s most powerful asset
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