5 skills every finance director will need by the year 2020

CFOs will be architects of change providing they have the right skills, says James Booth

With businesses embracing big data, new tech and digital media, the role of traditional finance director is evolving from financial expert to strategic partner, data analyst, talent curator and more.

You must become an innovation leader

New tech, including artificial intelligence, will become a core part of the innovation strategy within businesses looking to remain competitive. CFOs will be required to understand the opportunities presented by new tech to drive growth. By 2020, 48 per cent of CFOs are set to be using AI to improve performance.

Know how to interpret big data

 According to a report by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Mathematics (IMA), the CFO and finance team will be at the heart of the data revolution. In order to make sense of the large volumes of data the world will be generating by 2020, CFOs will need to be able to interpret data to generate actionable insights for CEOs and board-level decisions.

Take responsibility for cybersecurity

As tech grows and presents more complex cybersecurity risks to business, expectations on the CFO will be high. Four out of 10 finance chiefs currently own or co-own cybersecurity responsibility within their organisations. CFOs will be required to implement and manage cutting-edge risk management processes within the finance department and business. A proactive approach will be key.

Groom your successors

Prepping talent for a finance role was once the domain of HR, but in order to prepare new employees for the future of finance, CFOs are going to be required to increase involvement to ensure new employees can multitask, show technical competence and handle business strategy. Around 42 per cent of CFOs are also prioritising soft skills as a key element for future hires.

Handle remote working

With staff increasingly working from home, the modern CFO needs to think about whether the company needs a fixed address or more flexible arrangements. The CFO will also need to develop leadership skills to not only manage talent but also implement development strategies which work across remote teams with geographic and language differences.

James Booth is chief financial officer at The Instant Group, a flexible workspace provider whose clients include Sky, Network Rail and Worldpay