Future pathways to finance leadership

This report looks at how the future role of the CFO is expected to evolve, and the career experiences likely to be of most benefit to next generation CFOs.

Nearly 750 CFOs from across the world were surveyed for the Future Pathways to Financial Leadership report. Many of today’s CFO’s had taken classic finance career paths and the usual finance stepping stones to the CFO role, but they suggest new experiences will be needed by tomorrow's CFOs to meet the changing needs of business. Consequently the career experiences of most value will shift.

The survey revealed that the ‘classic’ career path of current CFO was largely domestic in nature, but we are already seeing that changing with 27% of CFOs having spent any time in an international role, and 25% having worked in an emerging market.

The most popular stepping stone to the CFO role was from financial controller. Almost 50% had six or more finance roles within their career. While 40% of CFOs had taken a role outside the finance function in their careers, more may need to do so in future.

Fast forward 10 or 15 years we can see some significant factors shaping the business landscape; faster business change, rebalancing growth across markets, new finance function models, the proliferation of information and the advent of social, mobile and cloud technologies.

These developments will impact how and where business is done and how the finance function operates. But also it means the capabilities that finance leaders need will evolve too, from being skilled in leadership in a change environment, being adept with technology, working successfully cross culturally, as well as deeper understanding of the industry and sector, and so on. They're going to have to build all these leadership and business skills on that platform of finance expertise which means they will need different, broader career experiences which will help build those capabilities.