Top-performing CFOs embrace disruption…are you one of them?

Facing unprecedented and tumultuous headwinds, today’s organizations run the risk of being left behind by more nimble competitors. To best support their enterprise and enhance their position as strategic business partners, top-performing CFOs must focus on six areas that drive competitive advantage for the business.

Innovation and investment: CFOs need to maintain a firm grip on the numbers while preserving a focus on market opportunities, threats, sector disruptions, and customer retention. Essentially, CFOs need to think like venture capitalists. They must first understand the trends and economics that are driving market disruption in their sectors. They can then manage innovation investments as a portfolio, using metrics aligned with the organization’s overall strategic objectives and governance program.


Extreme automation: CFOs and their organizations must embrace technology disruptors to transform their operating models and unlock the benefits of extreme automation. Leading finance organizations are already reaping the rewards of cloud-based ERP and RPA to enhance efficiency and reduce costs and cybersecurity risks. With a baseline technology infrastructure in place, finance can look to future investments in more advanced technologies.

Insights and analysis: As the only person in the enterprise with both the permission and the duty to integrate strategy, finance, and analytics, the CFO is uniquely positioned to define the analytics agenda. Due to automation, CFOs can, and must, shift their teams’ capabilities from descriptive and diagnostic analytics—what and why something happened in the past—to predictive and prescriptive analytics—what will happen in the future, and what the organization should do about it.

Organization and talent:  Digital disruption will turn finance into a business support function that combines strong analytical and strategic capabilities with traditional accounting skills.  CFOs must shape their team of the future with strategy, finance, process, control, collaboration, and relationship-building skills.

Service delivery model: Extreme automation will dramatically change the size, structure, and delivery model for finance, separating human expertise from automated execution and simplifying the organization’s operations. CFOs need to assess what new work needs to be done, how those demands translate to the skill sets of their workforce, and how to manage processes end to end, with less hierarchy and fewer offshore locations.

Risks and controls: An estimated 60 percent to 70 percent of manual controls performed today will be automated over the next five to ten years. And it is no wonder—extreme automation promises to improve controls while reducing internal and external compliance costs. Despite their purported benefits, CFOs must train a keen eye on potential issues ranging from process integration and system compatibility challenges to data protection and privacy concerns, and make sure they are proactively managed and continuously monitored.

While these areas may be challenging, they are essential for CFOs to embrace to strategically support their enterprises.

To learn more about the future of finance, and how CFOs can drive it, visit

The interview was filmed with Sarah Lockett, Business Correspondent of The Business Debate and Don Mailliard, Service Line Leader, Corporate Services, KPMG LLP.

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