The Evolving Role of Modern CFOs: How Finance Leaders Became Business Strategists & Value Creators

The role of the modern CFO is evolving in new and creative ways. Today, by extracting and applying valuable insight from finance data, they’ve grown into a reliable partner for the CEO and value creator. In this new guest post from Ronnie Wilson of Serviceware, we explore how CFOs can become a part of this new synergy…

The role of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has undergone significant change. Now seen as a trusted partner of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), CFOs have an essential part to play in the transformation of a business, with a lengthening list of critical tasks and responsibilities. According to McKinsey, four-in-ten CFOs say they create the most value for their organizations through their strategic leadership and performance management. It has, therefore, become critical for companies to give CFOs the tools and technologies needed to focus on organizational transformation, performance management, and cost discipline, driving growth in the process. 

Redefining the CFO’s Role 

Even before the pandemic, many companies were facing important decisions about managing their financial operations. However, in 2022, those decisions became more pressing than ever, especially after another year of economic turmoil. For example, Bó, the digital bank developed by high street lender, RBS, to challenge the likes of Monzo and Starling, closed in 2020 due to the pandemic’s financial impact, which caused profits to sink. CFOs have had to work closely with their CEOs to restructure and refocus businesses – scaling back workforces whilst taking other cost–saving measures just to stay afloat. The current challenge lies with businesses trying to balance the demand for innovation and investment with the need to secure IT cost savings during a recovering economic climate. CEOs need to invest now and prioritize technology investments as this can help unlock new paths for future growth whilst also helping to align to business strategies set by the CEO. 

The dynamic development of technology and business processes has also made the CFO’s role an increasingly important one. According to a recent Accenture survey, 49% of banking CFOs say identifying and unlocking value, such as through the development of new business models, has become a major focus in the last two years. CEOs are also looking to their CFOs to help drive innovation and transformation within their organizations. For example, last year, Deutsche Bank partnered with software firm Oracle to modernize the bank’s database technology and accelerate its digital transformation, enabling Germany’s top lender to cut costs. In addition, Bank of America recently announced the launch of CashPro Forecasting, a tool that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technology to more accurately create financial forecasts. 

To succeed in the digital age and avoid being left behind by the competition, CEOs and CFOs must align more than ever before.

Ronnie Wilson
Executive Vice President, Serviceware


How Can the CFO Keep Up With CEO Demands in 2022?  

To drive future growth and handle these responsibilities surrounding investment and innovation effectively, CFOs require technology solutions that combine performance data from the past with forward-looking scenario-planning. With companies generating more and more data every day, CFOs have numerous opportunities to gather new insights and increase business value. The problem is that the amount of data can be overwhelming. It can also be severely outdated and siloed across departments. For example, many companies use tools such as Excel as a way of managing their IT costs but due to the manual nature of spreadsheets there is a high potential for errors, posing a risk to data integrity and accuracy. Further, CFOs whose businesses have implemented different data repositories in different silos across the business find it harder to manage IT costs and processes.  

To keep up with the CEO’s demands, CFOs and their teams need access to the right insights at the right time to make the right decisions. This means providing a holistic picture of cost data across the enterprise and being transparent with the CEO on the insights informing decision-making. To manage this deluge of data, organizations and their CFOs need a practical way to gather vital and real-time operational, project and vendor cost data. Managing data analytics typically begins with implementing financial management tools such as IT Financial Management (ITFM) software, or what is often referred to as Technology Business Management (TBM) solutions. These tools can then be equally applied across the business, helping reduce the time CFOs spend on managing costs, providing more time for value-added activities where the CFO can leverage the insights from the data.  

ITFM software also provides senior management with detailed, timely and accurate data to easily understand the cost and effectiveness of the service they are delivering to their customers. During the pandemic, many finance departments that had previously relied on manual processes had to introduce automated tools to get work done during the transition to remote working. AI was increasingly the solution to quickly replicate tasks and processes, including gathering cost and service data, that were formerly carried out by people at slower speeds and higher error rates. In fact, according to a recent Deloitte survey, 86% of financial services’ AI adopters say that AI will be “very or critically important” to their business’s success in the next two years

A Match Made in Heaven – and in Data 

To succeed in the digital age and avoid being left behind by the competition, CEOs and CFOs must align more than ever before. Companies value the data-driven and empirical mindset that a CFO can bring to strategic planning, especially around forecasting trends and managing business risk, but this can only be achieved if CFOs have access to software solutions, such as ITFM. These tools provide greater visibility and understanding of all IT service processes. This greater transparency ensures that innovation and digital strategies take centre-stage, optimizing services and paving the way for a successful business future.

With the right data – and tools to compile and leverage that data effectively – the CFO will be best placed to keep up with the demands of the CEO in 2022. This will be an ongoing journey. The CFO of the future will need to adapt and respond quickly to change – whether it be supporting their companies’ ability to move into new markets or creating new business models.

Timely, accurate and relevant data has never been more important to the need for agile business decision-making. CFOs are ideally placed to lead the management of data, which supports better-informed management decisions and provides stakeholders with the information and insight they are demanding.


Ronnie Wilson
Executive Vice President, Serviceware

Serviceware’s Group Executive Vice President, Ronnie Wilson, has over 30 years of international experience in the IT sector, including 11 years as CEO at a FTSE 100 company, taking it through the 2008 financial crisis to a sale in 2009. He talks about relevant situations faced in senior leadership roles and explains challenging C-suite scenarios and how they can be managed during an economic recovery.