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Recession Sparks Evolution of CFO Role

CFOs across the globe have gained influence and taken on new responsibilities
Over the last several years, CFOs across the globe have gained influence and taken on new responsibilities in their companies. / Credit: Financial planning image via Shutterstock

Chief financial officers who helped carry their companies through the recession have undergone a significant role change within their organizations in recent years. According to American Express and CFO Research's sixth annual Global Business and Spending Monitor study, CFOs across the globe have more influence than ever over business planning and development.

Of the international finance executives surveyed, nearly 90 percent said that the role of CFO has expanded beyond the traditional tasks of planning and monitoring company spending to include more influential business management responsibilities. These duties include analyzing and interpreting financial data to guide decision-making, spurring change across the entire organization, overseeing organizational assets and directing risk-management efforts.

Survey respondents identified key skills that are necessary for success in today's business world, which reflect the new roles CFOs are taking on in their companies. The top skill needed for finance executives is strategic thinking (50 percent), followed by risk-management expertise (41 percent), analytic thinking (32 percent) and international business expertise (30 percent).

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The study also found that CFOs have gained considerable influence within their companies because of the economic downturn, with 65 percent of all respondents and 85 percent of U.S. respondents reporting an increase in their CFO's impact. The majority (84 percent) of finance executives believe they will be providing more input than ever on improving their company's ability to deliver value in the coming year. About half of respondents said that one of a CFO's greatest contributions to business growth is advocating for breakthroughs on new products and services, while 46 percent believed CFOs can enable growth by encouraging innovation.

American Express published an accompanying infographic with the study, which noted that 68 percent of CFOs expect economic expansion in 2014.

The 2013 Global Business and Spending Monitor study surveyed 519 senior finance executives from large companies in North America, Asia, Australia, Europe and Latin America. View the full report on the American Express website.

Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.

Nicole Fallon

Nicole received her Bachelor's degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She began freelancing for Business News Daily in 2010 and joined the team as a staff writer three years later. She currently serves as the managing editor. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.