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What will be the challenges for a CFO in the next decade?

AkzoNobel’sRogerioMenezes weighs in on how he sees a CFO’s role evolving.

The role of the CFO has changed dramatically in the past decade. While a company’s CFO might have once been characterized as a company’s "chief number cruncher," the job has evolved to an increasingly client-facing position. The CFO roles now requires it to be the face of the company’s financial performance, to interact with investors, and even to obtain and manage new business. 

Rogerio Menezes, the chief financial officer of Brazil’s AkzoNobel Pulp and Performance Chemicals, understands the challenge of this evolving role. The company supplies chemical products to the vibrant local pulp and paper industry, as well as to water sanitation and other sectors. In a 2012 interview with Latin Business Chronicle, he said: “My main job is to give the company all the economic and strategic support to expand and win new business,” saying he needed to help his company win new business.

“It is not all about figures. I have to worry about compliance and reporting and tax issues. But we are also working on very long term business models and solutions that involve very large volume of investments. I am involved in attracting investments as part of the AkzoNobel group,” he said in that interview.

But what of the next decade? How will the CFO’s role continue to evolve? LBC sat down with Menezes at the Latin Trade CFO Forum in São Paulo in March to gain his insight.

According to Menezes, the key of the future CFO isunderstanding the business environment and understanding the business. “For me one of the main roles of the CFO is really to go deep in the business understanding. Go deep in your company and try to make sure that people deliver what is supposed to be delivered and try to make sure as well that you understand what is supposed to be delivered in a deep way. That is challenge number one.”

Understanding the business includes understanding all aspects of it. For this reason, Menezes also highlights the importance of process systems, and all that is behind it. “The second point I would highlight is about process systems. The connection process system must work in a very effective way,” he said. “This is crucial.”

Of course, making this effective change will require attracting and maintain the right talent.

“The third point I would make is about people. The challenge for the next decade will be to find and retain qualified people,” says the AkzoNobel CFO.“We need to find and develop people who really having a deep understanding of the company, of the business, of the products, of the outcome, everything.” This will require the right kind of training and development, he says.

With these visions, it will be exciting to see where this CFO of AkzoNobel, and other leading CFOs, will do with the next 10 years.

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