2020 has been a challenging year for those in the finance department. Projects had to be delayed, cash flow was slow, and those running both the long-term and short-term finances have seen changes. Understandably, as a controller, you’ve seen your role change in response to the lockdowns and pursuant economic turmoil, but how have the roles of those in the top spot changed?
Whether you are a CFO in all but the title, are looking to understand how you can adapt to new roles and responsibilities, or are working to make the move, it pays to ask how the CFO role has changed in the last year so that you can consequently adjust.
Luckily, a recent article from CFO highlighted two recent studies—one before and one conducted during the pandemic—to gauge the changes and effects of the lockdowns on business goals. These two studies, the first conducted in February and the next in May, have looked into the changing focus of CFOs, the spending changes that have been made, and the technology changes made to push the organization forward.
From Taking a Balanced Approach to Managing Strategy and Change
One of the biggest trends highlighted by the two studies is the move from business as usual to strategy and change.
The CFO’s Recent Shift from Balance to Strategy
Taking their own approach to the four faces model, finance executives were asked to note the time spent on the following four roles: strategist (crafting corporate strategy); change agent (generating business value); producer (standardizing and automating transactional processes); and guardian (standardizing control and compliance processes).
According to the February study, time spent on each role was divided equally, but by May, finance chiefs were shifting focus toward the strategist and change agent role. Whether due to the delays on current projects presented by the shutdowns or the necessary change needed to rebound stronger in 2021, the innovation initiatives are being pivoted.
What This Means for the Controller
With the focus of the CFO changing, the controller needs to reestablish and rethink his or her role as well. Whether this means taking on the roles left behind by the refocused CFO, discovering better approaches to transaction management and compliance, or it means an expectation that you provide answers needed to facilitate the CFO’s focus on strategy and change management, you’re looking at new day to day responsibilities.
Resources for Controllers: How to Support the Refocused CFO
Learn more about how you can prepare with the following resources:
- Improve your compliance and audit by learning how to build a better relationship with the audit committee.
- Understand the CFO’s expectations for finance change management by reading the five steps to leading finance transformation.
- Get to know the most important recovery metrics that you may have overlooked during the pandemic. Part 1, Part 2.
- Focus on process improvement and month-end close facilitation by learning the five biggest challenges you need to overcome.
The Contemporary Controller: What Changes Are You Making?
Whether you’re looking to grow and expand your role, take steps to move up the ladder, or simply stay ahead of changes, your ability to adapt to the present and future challenges should be a top priority.
The role of Accounting and Financial Controllers is changing and growing in importance. Traditional roles of managing accounting operations and reporting still dominate, but rapidly changing pandemic and economic environments have expanded the Controllers responsibilities in technology, human capital, crisis management and corporate strategy.
In July through October 2020, the Controllers Council surveyed more than 300 Controllers, CFOs, and related professionals in accounting and corporate finance roles. The objective of this study: to identify how the roles and responsibilities of these important executives have changed, adapted and evolved. Get the full report.
Bonus: Controller to CFO: Five Dos and Five Don’ts for Controllers Looking to Grab the Ring
The Controllers Council recently presented a webcast on the steps you need to take if you’re in the market for a promotion. This webinar, titled Controller to CFO: The Path to Promotion, highlighted the path and recommendations of our esteemed panelist Ted Weitzel, SVP of Finance & Operations at G2, an individual who made the journey from controller to CFO shared the things to embrace and avoid if you want to make the jump.
In this, we discussed five of the biggest dos and don’ts for controllers looking to move up the finance depth chart, and you can learn more below:
- Saying yes, learning to present, working the room, focusing on growth, and trusting your team are some of the most important focuses discussed in our five dos article.
- Learn how you can avoid explaining your decisions like a controller, losing sight of what matters, and falling into the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mentality by reading the most important things to avoid.