Change / transformation Leadership

Are you a future-ready CFO?

What does it mean to be a future-ready CFO?

I had the privilege of speaking recently to a group of not-for-profit CFOs at the FAR Roundtable in Washington, D.C. I love having the opportunity to have a dialog with a group of CFOs about their challenges and how they are dealing with this VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world. Here are my presentation and slides:


Future-ready is to be anticipatory Future-ready is the ability to be proactive and anticipatory in a rapidly changing world. It is the capacity to be aware, predictive and adaptive of emerging technology and trends in business, demographics, and the social environment impacting your organization and industry. The key words are aware, predictive and adaptive.

Are you aware of the trends and issues facing your business now and in the future? Can you predict what the trends will mean to your business model and customers? And finally, can you think about how you would prepare to adapt your business to those trends in a rapidly changing environment?

Top challenges facing CFOs spell danger The top five challenges facing CFOs (from our prior surveys) are:

  1. Doing more with less,
  2. Not having enough time,
  3. Being reactive versus proactive,
  4. Finding and retaining talent, and
  5. Dealing with technology changes.

These challenges mean that CFOs may be prone to "hunker down" and miss those weak signals of disruptive change coming at them. It is this situation that poses the highest risk of disruption, and it's when businesses need you the most. See slides 35-41 for the polls and responses from the CFOs about their top challenges, top skills, and insights. "Significant change is here and we need to be ahead of the curve and get proactive." - CFO participant How to be a future-ready CFO So, here are my five steps to be a future-ready CFO:

  1. Initiate change: Disrupt yourself before someone else does!
  2. Go digital: The exponential pace of change in technology means you must use automation to your advantage.
  3. Elevate skills: If you automate, you must elevate your skills and those of your team. Anticipation is the secret to being proactive.
  4. Protect the core: When everything is changing, it is important to know what won't change. Your purpose and values as an organization should provide a constant.
  5. Enjoy the ride: You can't stop the waves if change, but you can learn how to ride them!

At the end of the session, several CFOs came up and said they felt aware of the changes and were ready to learn how to be proactive, anticipatory, and future-ready.


To learn more about becoming a future-ready CFO, check out the Anticipatory Organization™: Accounting and Finance Edition.

More resources on finance transformation:

Our purpose is to help CPAs, finance and accounting professionals be 'future ready' and to thrive in these rapidly changing times!

TOM HOOD, CPA.CITP.CGMA is considered one of the most influential thinkers in the CPA Profession and the CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs (MACPA). Tom is also the founder and CEO of the Business Learning Institute, the innovation and learning affiliate of the MACPA, a leading talent development, training and strategy organization for CPAs, finance and accounting professionals in the US. They provide customized, competency-based curriculums and a portfolio of “success skills” and technical programs designed for the Finance and Accounting Profession. 


Thomas Hood