Harvard Business Review

Executive Brief: The CFO Agenda: Transforming the Finance Function

HBR and PwC outline how CFOs can lead disruption—and avoid being disrupted. Download the executive brief based on the HBR webinar featuring Bob Woods and Tabitha DeFrancisco of PwC.

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A Seven-Point Modern Finance Agenda

Based on the webinar, The CFO Agenda: Transforming the Finance Function, featuring Bob Woods and Tabitha DeFrancisco of PwC, this executive brief discusses:

  • A seven-point modern finance agenda that supports successful digital transformations
  • The competencies needed for new finance roles 
  • A case study of a corporate Controller enabled by a modern finance workplace
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Because Chief Financial Officers have insight into every business unit, they have visibility into opportunities that can be unlocked by information-led transformations. It is therefore no surprise that CFOs are assuming new strategic roles.

Tasked with guiding the growth of companies, building digital organizations, and transforming the finance function, CFOs must first identify their objectives and then decide whether they will lead with people, process, or performance.

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Featured Speakers
Tabitha DeFrancisco, Direktorin im Bereich Managementberatung für Verbrauchermärkte bei PwC
Tabitha DeFrancisco
Direktorin, Verbrauchermärkte
Bob Woods, Partner im Bereich Technologie, Medien und Telekommunikation (TMT) von PwC
Bob Woods
Partner, Praxis für Technologie, Medien und Telekommunikation (TMT)
Angelia Herrin, Redakteurin für Sonderprojekte und Forschung bei der Harvard Business Review
Angelia Herrin
Redakteurin für Sonderprojekte und Forschung
Harvard Business Review
C-suite executives are asking, ‘What is the defining characteristic of the business and how do we stay ahead of that?’ The CFO is usually an advisor in this conversation. It’s important to have data about profit margins, declining sales, at-risk geographies, and more.
Bob Woods, Partner, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications, PwC


What are the three dimensions around which most finance organizations are built?

Finance organizations are built around a strategic dimension, an external dimension, and a functional dimension. The strategic dimension evaluates the company's performance and supports future growth of the company, the stock price, and other external measures. The external dimension support the investor community and regulatory environments. And the functional dimension supports the organization's core functional activities. Each dimension has its own unique set of customers, and CFOs must understand the different customer groups and how each defines success.

What are main ways that organizations pursue digital transformation?

First, there are organizations that are "Efficiency seekers." They aim to do business in a smarter, faster, way. This category describes many CFOs and finance teams because it is the most tactical, outcome-oriented, and controllable. Secondly, there are finance organizations that are best described as "Modernizers." They seek to create new capabilities to modernize the business, adopting technological solutions to survive disruption. A third group of finance organizations is the "Re-definers," which seek to change and redefine the business at the core in order to stay ahead of the market. The fourth category are the "Industry explorers," which break new ground in new markets and industries. There are many companies in the technology sector in this category. For more information, please download the HBR Executive Brief.

What are the main competency areas that members of finance teams should have?

There are five main competency areas that finance teams seek in new and existing talent: (1) The Technogeek, who likes to play with technology and implement it to streamline processes (2) the Problem Solver, who is a structured thinker and strong collaborator, (3) The Treasure Hunter, who enjoy mining for data and creating value and providing insight into better ways to do thing, (4) The Dreamer, who excels are creative visualization and envision better processes, and (5) The Controller, who is detail-oriented and seeks to preserve value. For more information about these five competency areas, please see the Executive Brief.