Finance Leadership Trends 2024

The Finance Function

The modern CFO has one of the most complex roles in the C-Suite. As Finance’s mission has expanded away from core Accounting, Finance, Treasury and FP&A functions, CFOs have become the custodians of company data and the technologies that house and interrogate it.

Finance departments have become increasingly influential by gathering financial intelligence, providing predictive analytics and positioning themselves as partners to all parts of the business – the CFO is often the right-hand man to the CEO. They also prepare a wider scope of strategic reporting and forecasting now, enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions. As core markets, functions and skills evolve, some Finance leaders are even using data analysis to help HR departments optimise organisational structures. Economic uncertainty driven by geopolitical events only enhances the value of strong Finance leadership. The scope of responsibility is becoming so wide that some CFOs could be considered CFOOs. Time spent in Finance still provides the most natural route to becoming a CEO.

The Finance Leader

The CFO’s skillset includes strategic financial decision-making, a strong grasp of the expanding risk register, including new regulations, and a high level of stakeholder management. The biggest change in recent years is the need to collaborate and innovate effectively with senior stakeholders across all parts of the business. This requires a different personality to the Finance leaders of 15 years ago.  Data literacy comes with the territory and senior Finance professionals must also be equipped with suitable tech competence. The most in-demand Finance leaders monitor how technology is driving wider business transformation and innovation.

As the scope of Finance expands, Finance professionals at all levels are expected to cover a wider range of activities rather than having narrow specialisms it is essential that the leader can work with HR and external consultancies to develop career paths and benchmark salaries – and other aspects of reward – to attract, retain and motivate talent. At the mid to senior level, people with the strategic outlook, leadership, data analysis, forecasting and tech skills can be hard to resource. Technical upskilling is crucial, the soft skills that we often talk about are also critical; these include collaboration and innovation, data-driven storytelling, and communications to suit a range of stakeholders.

Returns on Technology Investment

The new breed of CFO proactively drives technology investment to enhance performance and productivity while controlling or reducing costs. They also seek competitive advantage by partnering Marketing leaders in developing new revenue streams; entering or creating new markets, and integrating emerging technologies like GenAI. This is done within the controlled context of multilayered cost-of-risk assessments across the business, wider programmes, technology, data and security.

88% of CFOs and other business executives in a recent PwC Pulse Survey said they struggled to capture value from their technology investments, so good methodologies, insight and judgement are paramount.

Finance Priorities for 2024

  • Finance function: transform design and structure, update metrics, insights and storytelling in line with strategy.
  • Business transformation of people, processes, systems and offerings achieved through cross-functional partnering.
  • Recruit and retain talent with the skills and outlook to succeed in a changing environment.
  • Enable the business to be resilient and flexible.
  • AI Integration, prioritise business transformation over simple use cases.

  • ESG, manage reporting requirements and optimise strategy.
  • Cost optimisation and efficiency, reduce debt and increase liquidity.

Finance Leads on ESG

ESG reporting requirements are ramping up in Europe. As ESG departments start to take shape, the strategic accounting and control experience of Finance make it the key division in achieving the required detail as painlessly as possible. Climate change is a recognised risk in terms of compliance and real-world threat. Specialist teams are modelling the financial impact of climate scenarios and working out how best to integrate sustainability at the operational and product development level. As well as a positive impact on society, cheaper green energy, tax incentives and green financing all have the potential to reduce costs as part of a sustainable strategy. Failure to deliver on sustainability goals – or any other ethical goals related to a company’s stated purpose – are also considered a moderate to serious risk for many CFOs. Reputational damage can deter investment, custom and potential employees.

The Year Ahead

Recruitment is a stated priority for many Finance leaders in 2024 along with AI integration, business transformation, refined metrics and the management of cost, debt and liquidity. Healy Hunt will continue to provide the highest level of Finance Search Services for this challenging and exciting function. Contact our Finance Practice with your next search.

Phil Bailey

Phil Bailey

Phil is the head of our Finance Practice. He has specialised is this sector for almost a decade and is an integral member of the Healy Hunt team. Contact Phil with your Finance search requirements.

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