The Modern CFO Career Path Now Includes Analytics
Greg Selker, the author of an article titled “The Evolution of the CFO Role: Why Accounting and Financial Planning & Analysis Are No Longer Enough” describes the evolution of the career path taken to become a CFO. Up until about ten years ago, the career journey to become a CFO followed the traditional finance and accounting functions.
The professional would begin their corporate career as either a junior accountant or a junior finance analyst and work their way up from there. The accounting path would prepare the professional to support complex operations around financial reporting, cash analysis, supporting annual audits, and learning key roles such as accounts payables and accounts receivables. The final stop along the corporate accounting ladder before ascension to the CFO chair would usually be as a Corporate Controller or Chief Accounting Officer.
The other path would culminate in the professional becoming the head of planning. This path would allow the professional to team up with the business units to support complex planning, budgeting and forecasting activities.This path could lead to a VP or Head of Planning role before a promotion to CFO.
Greg Selker highlights how dominion over these two functions may no longer be enough to become a modern CFO. Data analytics has now become a core component expected of finance and accounting professionals. As a result, it is not uncommon for these professionals to seek higher degrees in Data Science to advance their careers. They are also more likely to complete certifications across technologies supporting their roles. In short, today’s modern finance office has crossed over into Information Technology faster than nearly every other corporate department.
It is not unusual today for corporate finance to dive into the type of database powering their applications and control administrative and ad-hoc functions of systems previously left to IT to manage.
The proliferation of big data means decision-making is heavily based on analytics today. As a result, the traditional executive gut check alone on significant decisions is no longer a vehicle of confidence. Instead, the business depends on finance to decipher business data to support strategic decisions.