New generation of CFOs driving broader view of business performance and purpose
In the move towards sustainable organisations the role of the CFO is evolving beyond finance to include sustainability and social aspects of their operations

New researchby ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and BDO, the international network of public accounting, tax and advisory firms, has revealed how the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) is growing to include driving business decisions and reporting on the non-financial areas of their operations.

Over 100 CFOs and business leaders from around the world took part in round tables and in-depth interviews to contribute their insight into how the traditional role of the CFO is changing, resulting in the report 'Chief value officer — the important evolution of the CFO'.

To be successful and sustainable, businesses and other organisations increasingly need to combine economic, environmental and social equity. Those that don't, face risks and their value can diminish — there is a very strong link between value creation and strategy. Using the breadth of drivers (financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social & relationship and nature) to generate benefit for a wide range of stakeholders creates value. With a focus for many organisations on purpose and value, contributors were asked to consider whether there is a trend to asserting the need for a new role of chief value officer and whether this a role that the CFO is already fulfilling.

The resulting three key findings from the report are:

- The concept of value is fundamental to the management of performance in organisations and its adoption is a key element in their path to a sustainable future.

- CFOs are increasingly adopting a value-centric approach in their work and this represents an evolution towards encompassing the chief value officer role within a more traditionally financially focused remit.

- The development path for those aspiring to be CFOs requires an increasingly broad range of experience which embraces both formal and informal learning activities: professional bodies and practices need to engage with this.

Helen Brand, ACCA chief executive, noted: "We already know that CFOs are increasingly acting as strategic leaders and advisers in their organisations. The CFO role is one that has moved significantly from the traditional view, while retaining the core responsibilities. Now there's a real opportunity for them to satisfy the value agenda and evolve the role for the next generation of CFOs."

Carly Bleathman, partner — business services and outsourcing at BDO UK, said: "Our research highlights the exceptional role that CFOs are playing in developing their organisations. We commend the role that these individuals play and how they are truly embracing the broader value agenda. I know from my own experience that CFOs are truly chief value officers."

Albert Lopez, global head of business services and outsourcing, BDO Global, said: "There are many CFOs from across the world who are embracing this wider concept of value and our research highlights many positive stories. Embracing the sustainability agenda and delivering against it is a key role that our profession must play to help ensure that we have a positive future."

Author Clive Webb, head of business management at ACCA, said: "Creating sustainable organisations is a key priority for all organisations and CFOs have a fundamental role to play in delivering this. The perception of the CFO and the finance team needs to change from being Dr No to Dr How. It is pleasing to see how many finance teams are working towards this agenda".

For more information, read the full report at our website.

About ACCA

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants.

We're a thriving global community of 241,000 members and 542,000 future members based in 178 countries and regions, who work across a wide range of sectors and industries. We uphold the highest professional and ethical values.

We offer everyone everywhere the opportunity to experience a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. Our qualifications and learning opportunities develop strategic business leaders, forward-thinking professionals with the financial, business and digital expertise essential for the creation of sustainable organisations and flourishing societies.

Since 1904, being a force for public good has been embedded in our purpose. In December 2020, we made commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals which we are measuring and will report on in our annual integrated report.

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