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The view from the top

The view from the top

Global CEOs see a powerful future for their CFOs. Welcome to the age of the Renaissance CFO.


Morris Treadway


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view from the top v2

CEOs set a high bar for their CFOs. They challenge their CFO to think differently, exude stronger leadership capabilities and succeed as a strategic partner. The View from the Top report, which surveyed over 500 executives from six continents, reveals that we have entered the age of the Renaissance CFO. Today’s CFO is increasingly valued as a leader and influencer and is expected to operate on a global scale, leveraging financial data and analytics to achieve profitable growth, capitalizing on a dynamic regulatory environment and nurturing and acquiring top talent. He or She is managing a vast ecosystem of expanding complexity with the goal of achieving competitive advantage. The findings from this survey reaffirm the critical role the CFO plays in the business enterprise and within financial management.

Are CFOs ready for the challenge?

Key Highlights of the report:

  • Two-thirds (63 percent) of the surveyed CEOs believe that the CFO's role will increase in significance over the next three years, as compared with other C-suite roles. The CFO role seems to be the most important in North America (91 percent) and South America (93 percent).
  • Almost one out of three CEOs feel their CFO is not up to the challenge. Thirty percent of the global CEOs say their CFOs don’t understand or assist them enough with the challenges they face with running their organizations.
  • Welcome to the age of the Renaissance CFO. Global experience is the most important attribute a CFO can possess, say 48 percent of all surveyed CEOs. European CEOs (60 percent) seem to value global experience even more than their U.S. counterparts (42 percent).
  • CFOs need to approach the regulatory burden as an opportunity. CEOs named the regulatory environment as the external factor that will most influence the future role of the CFO. That is not necessarily a negative: 61 percent of CEOs also see regulation as an opportunity to derive competitive advantage.
  • The CFO of the future leverages the latest technology. Leveraging IT, such as cloud-enabled ERP systems, should be the main focus of CFOs in the future, say CEOs. Yet less than half of CEOs from these organizations think their finance functions are doing a good job in exploring and implementing the best new technology.
  • Data and analytics will increasingly drive strategy and profits. Eighty-five percent of CEOs say applying financial data to achieve profitable growth is the greatest strategic value a CFO can bring to an organization.
  • CEOs put a huge value on people skills, but many see their CFOs as lacking in this area. Almost all (97 percent) of CEOs say that attracting and retaining top-notch finance talent is the most or equally important contributing factor in improving the finance function, yet only 33 percent give their CFOs a passing grade in talent management.

For continued reading please download 'The view from the top' whitepaper.


We invite you to join us on 17 March for a panel discussion. Please join us for this 60-minute webcast during which KPMG and Forbes will discuss the answers to the following questions and more:

  • What do CEOs actually expect from their CFOs?
  • What are the major opportunities for CFOs and how can they differentiate themselves?
  • What trends are having the most impact across industries?
  • Where should CFOs focus to help drive business strategy and become a better partner across the enterprise?

The view from the top: CEOs see a powerful future for the CFO

KPMG teamed up with Forbes Insights to survey 178 CEOs to understand their changing views and expectations of their CFOs and finance function.

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© 2017 KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. Member firms of the KPMG network of independent firms are affiliated with KPMG International. KPMG International provides no client services. No member firm has any authority to obligate or bind KPMG International or any other member firm vis-à-vis third parties, nor does KPMG International have any such authority to obligate or bind any member firm. All rights reserved.

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