Expectations for CFOs are Accelerating According to Joint IMA-ACCA Report
Stern Strategy Group
(on behalf of IMA)
Anat Gerstein, Inc.
(on behalf of ACCA US)
New York and Montvale, N.J., September 30, 2020 – A report by IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants) and ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) released today finds that the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the shifting of the CFO role.
“The CFO of the Future” report, with data from global surveys and virtual roundtable discussions, shows that the CFO role is continuing to evolve with additional responsibilities and that the global pandemic has brought these changes on faster than expected.
To evaluate the extent of this evolution, IMA and ACCA developed six hypotheses for participants to consider for their organizations’ CFO roles:
- The CFO will become predominantly focused on stakeholder and investor management rather than safeguarding and reporting
- The CFO will have a leading responsibility for business strategy formulation, validation, and execution
- The focus of the role is shifting from principally historic-based cost control to growth optimization
- The role will encompass measurement of all aspects of the strategic objectives of the organizations
- The CFO will provide the greatest value to the organization through forward insight rather than retrospective reporting
- CFOs will increasingly have the CEO role as the next progression in their career development
“The events of the past few months have changed several finance and accounting fundamentals and will continue to do so, especially as it relates to the CFO role,” said Raef Lawson, Ph.D., CMA, CPA, IMA vice president of research and policy. “Our research concluded that CFOs are no longer viewed solely as finance leaders. They are being looked to for governance and risk management, business change, business resilience, and technology advancement.”
The survey respondents, 1,152 ACCA and IMA members, as well as global roundtable participants that included CFOs and CEOs, saw most of the hypotheses already enacted. Respondents most strongly agreed with the hypothesis that CFOs will play an increasingly important role in strategy execution. The least supported hypothesis was the career progression of the CFO towards a CEO role; however, most felt that this trend would increase.
Additionally, 72 percent of respondents felt that the role of the CFO will either “increase or increase significantly” in importance over the next three to five years. With this increased responsibility, finance and accounting executives must focus on building a talent pipeline in their organizations that can satisfy the needs of the future organization.
“Our CFOs of today are strategic and forward-looking, and no longer limited by their organization’s financial agenda,” said Clive Webb, ACCA head of business management. “They have broad agendas and are contributing to their organizations in ways that we identified back in 2012, even during this global pandemic. Our CFOs are more well-rounded than ever and will continue to enhance their skillsets as many take on more responsibility and possibly become CEOs in the future.”
Other key findings in the report include:
- 82 percent of CEO respondents felt that the role of CFO would increase or significantly increase in importance
- 78 percent of respondents assessed that the ethical lens was a differentiating factor for the CFO in comparison to other executives
- 68 percent of CEO respondents felt that people highly value the strategic insights of CFOs
The full “The CFO of the Future” report is available here.
ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants, offering business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
ACCA supports its 227,000 members and 544,000 students (including affiliates) in 176 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 110 offices and centres and 7,571 Approved Employers worldwide, and 328 approved learning providers who provide high standards of learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
ACCA has introduced major innovations to its flagship qualification to ensure its members and future members continue to be the most valued, up to date and sought-after accountancy professionals globally. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com
About IMA® (Institute of Management Accountants)
IMA®, named the 2017 and 2018 Professional Body of the Year by The Accountant/International Accounting Bulletin, is one of the largest and most respected associations focused exclusively on advancing the management accounting profession. Globally, IMA supports the profession through research, the CMA® (Certified Management Accountant) and CSCA® (Certified in Strategy and Competitive Analysis) programs, continuing education, networking and advocacy of the highest ethical business practices. IMA has a global network of more than 125,000 members in 150 countries and 300 professional and student chapters. Headquartered in Montvale, N.J., USA, IMA provides localized services through its four global regions: The Americas, Asia/Pacific, Europe and Middle East/India. For more information about IMA, please visit www.imanet.org.