10 Skills Every CFO Needs To Possess

The role of a CFO in the current business scenario is rapidly changing. They are no longer hired only for their financial knowledge – crunching numbers and focusing on the balance sheets; instead, modern CFOs are innovative and agile leaders adept at planning for anything predictable. Consequently, the skills expected from a modern CFO are also rapidly changing.

University programs and professional training are sometimes more than enough to train for various fields of finance. However, it is only through an executive finance online course that aspiring CFOs can learn about the various skills needed to run and succeed in a modern organisation.

In the following post, we take a look at the most important skills expected from a modern CFO and how an executive finance course can help aspirants.

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Important Skills Every CFO Needs

1. Strategizing

The primary job of a CFO is to look for positive ventures for their business and help the CEO make important business decisions. CFOs at top firms around the world are financial experts with the technical skills to form and execute business strategies effectively. Strategizing skills are even more important in the post-pandemic era, as businesses have had to change their business models and financial executives have been at the front and centre of this change.

2. Cross-Functional Expert

Over the last couple of years, businesses have had to learn the hard way that broader expertise is key for success in the modern era. Financial executives who are only good with the operational side of things are simply not good enough to navigate constantly changing environments. Online finance courses can prepare aspiring CEOs by helping them learn about the other facets of the business and use data from various streams to form business strategies effectively.

3. Analyze And Interpret Data

It is one thing to see numbers and it is another to use them to propel the organisation where you want it to go. Interpreting data goes beyond Excel sheets and PowerPoint slides. Modern financial executives are not only expected to be able to analyse data but they are also expected to be able to make sense of it and help other executives understand it easily. An executive finance online course is one of the best ways to learn about distinct types of data and how to use them effectively to achieve company goals.

4. Predict Probable Outcomes, Quickly

Typically, financial executives are expected to be quicker and more accurate in forecasting probable outcomes. Modern businesses need to make decisions rapidly and CFOs often spearhead these strategic decisions. Finance short courses online will teach you innovative ways to make more informed decisions by gathering recent happenings from as many sources as possible. High-level CFOs will often study global news and events inside and outside their industry, even if they seem irrelevant, and plot how such events can affect their business.

5. Driving Digital Fluency

As modern technologies automate and streamline processes, it is the duty of the CFO to acquire knowledge of and implement digital systems so that more data can be analysed accurately and distributed to the stakeholders. There is less focus on reporting historical trends and more on how these trends can be used to make smart business decisions. Irrespective of the industry, financial executives need to be the drivers of digital fluency and grow the business by incorporating modern digital methods.

6. Research Modern Technologies

There is no denying the fact that the finance industry has received a huge boost from advancing technologies. As a result, modern CFOs are going to need to be more digitally fluent and should be able to lead a team that analyses modern technologies.

It is important for financial executives to invest the time and effort in understanding the latest technologies, not to become systems experts, but to explore diverse options and solutions. In addition to assigning the role of R&D to specific team members, CFOs should be able to hire people who are more adept at current technological trends.

7. Agile Performer

As discussed earlier, industries over the last couple of years have understood the importance of agility in business operations. Businesses that are not agile cannot react to problems quickly and will suffer losses in some way or the other. Professional courses like the Oxford executive program teach aspiring financial executives the importance of having the mentality of trying things differently. CFOs need to be able to cope with rapidly changing business scenarios and bring multiple options to the table that are innovative yet workable.

8. Team Leader And Team Builder

While hiring for the finance team is generally handled by the human resource managers, CFOs in many industries play an active role in the process. It is indispensable for the teams to get the right person who not only fits the company culture but can also bring something new to the organisation, especially the finance team, without disrupting the overall process. Financial executives need to be able to understand how a person works and what drives them and decide if the organisation can provide the environment in which they work best.

9. Empathy

Being at the top of the ladder, CFOs already have impressive technical backgrounds. However, it is often the soft skills like empathy, compassion, and openness that makes a great executive. CFOs need to be able to build strong relations across the team and look for new and innovative ways to collaborate without holding biases.

Empathy not only extends to the employees, but to the customers as well. During industry-wide disruptions, CFOs need to renegotiate and work alongside their customers to solve issues together. Not only does this help both parties during tough times, but it also solidifies relationships.

10. Behavioral Skills

The Board of Directors now assess CFO candidates based on their behavioural skills as well as it helps them determine how the person will function during various scenarios. These skills can help determine the person’s thought process and how it fits in the company culture. Professional courses, like one in an executive program in finance, teach more than financial proficiency and helps build communication skills as well.


What CEOs and Board of Directors are expecting from a CFO is rapidly changing and simply having financial proficiency is not enough to succeed in a modern enterprise. Financial executives will need to master the skills discussed above to set themselves apart from their peers and bring success to their teams. In addition to your university degree, consider enrolling in an executive finance online course to learn directly from field experts and learn various financial and behavioural skills needed to succeed as a financial executive.

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