CEOs set a high bar for their CFOs

in Industry insights, 30.11.2015

In today’s complex global economy, what do CEOs expect from their CFOs? KPMG surveyed over 500 executives across the globe to explore the CFO through a CEO lens.

Increasing requirements

CEOs challenge their CFO to think differently, exude stronger leadership capabilities and succeed as a strategic partner. 63 percent of the surveyed CEOs believe that the CFO’s role will increase in significance over the next 3 years, as compared with other C-suite roles.

  • CFOs need to approach the regulatory burden as an opportunity. CEOs named the regulatory environment as the external factor that will most influence the future role of the CFO.
  • The CFO of the future leverages the latest technology. Leveraging IT, such as cloud-enabled ERP systems, should be the main focus of CFOs in the future, say CEOs.
  • Data and analytics will increasingly drive strategy and profits. 85 percent of CEOs say applying financial data to achieve profitable growth is the greatest strategic value a CFO can bring to an organization.
  • CEOs put a huge value on people skills. Almost all (97 percent) of CEOs say that attracting and retaining top-notch finance talent is the most important contributing factor in improving the finance function.

In order to meet the high expectations CFOs need to possess specific business attributes.

CEO Study II

(click graphic to enlarge)

Almost half (48 percent) of CEOs surveyed believe that global experience is the most important attribute a CFO can possess, compared to other more traditional attributes, such as industry experience (32 percent) and regulatory experience (19 percent).

Are CFOs ready for the challenge?

Almost one out of three CEOs feel their CFO is not up to the challenge. 30 percent of the global CEOs say their CFOs don’t understand or assist them enough with the challenges they face with running their organizations.


‘Opportunity’ was the way many CEOs described what they wanted out of their CFOs for everything from increasing regulation to mastering the complexities of data analytics. No individual could do all of this alone – this is a journey. The CFOs that embrace these challenges will not only add significantly more value to the business, they will also become stronger leaders both, personally and professionally.

Underpinning the success of any good CFO are the right systems, the right people and the right data capabilities.



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