BACK-ROOM TO BOARDROOM: The 6 Core Competencies of a Modern Finance Professional

June 4, 2017 Paul Lower

Finance ProfessionalsIn the globally competitive world of the 21st century financial professionals, and the finance function itself, are under greater scrutiny and pressure than ever before to help cut costs, to grow revenue and to maintain control. Under these increasingly difficult and volatile global conditions many organisations face a battle to remain competitive in their ability to create and deliver value to key stakeholders and to differentiate themselves in the eyes of customers.

CEO’s, directors and senior managers expect their CFO move out of the “back office” and in to the boardroom to fully support them in the battle to maintain a strong competitive position. The modern finance professional is expected to apply 6 critical core competencies; three of which are traditional finance foundation skills and three that represent the leading edge capabilities expected of the modern finance pro.

The three foundation competencies are:
  • Steward

The modern finance professional is still responsible for preserving the organisation’s assets and minimising risk. Basic requirements in this area also include maintaining the books to provide the basis for increasingly demanding external reporting requirements, as well as providing the information for important internal financial and management accounting reporting.

  • Functional manager

The modern finance pro is expected to run a tight Finance operation, maintaining efficiency by using modern IT resources and ERP and other software to drive down the cost of the Finance function whilst maintaining the quality and timeliness of financial information to assist in strategic decision making and financial reporting.

  • Planner

The planning and forecasting responsibilities are increasingly at the centre of the role of the modern finance pro; using financial modelling techniques to provide dynamic and responsive forecasting tools to provide rapid input to challenging decisions and using advanced sensitivity analysis techniques to assess and manage risk.

The three leading-edge competencies are:

In world-class organisations the modern finance pro is expected to develop the role of Strategic Business Partner; taking part in helping to shape overall strategy and provide financial leadership in deciding the strategic direction of the business; providing guidance on mergers and acquisitions, financing and capital markets. Research[1] suggests that in these world-class companies around 50% of the Finance function works in supporting strategic decision making. 

The finance professional also plays a vital role in assisting in the implementation of business strategy by providing the information required for an effective performance management system; information needed to monitor and learn about the impact of strategy execution and to fine tune performance to keep the organisation on track to achieve its strategic priorities and objectives.

The modern finance professional is expected to act as a catalyst to spread behaviors across the organisation to execute strategic and financial objectives whilst at the same time creating a risk intelligent culture; spreading a financial approach and mindset in order to assist in helping the organisation to perform better.

[1] Hackett Group in conjunction with CIMA

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