A Year in Review: 2013 Marks the Rise of the CFO

Image via Flickr by Nancy Pelosi

As 2013 draws to a close, it’s interesting to reflect on one of the most rousing years for Chief Financial Officers in recent history. From the death of Joy Covey, CFO of Amazon, to the financial confusion surrounding the Affordable Care Act, 2013 was an eventful year for finance professionals. But that’s not all: it also marks a new chapter in the role of the CFO.

America’s top finance executives have grown more in 2013 than in any given year prior, and 2014 is poised to offer just as much progress. Instead of serving simply as financial executives, CFOs are now critical strategic drivers and visionaries for their companies. Below, we highlight the biggest finance executive trends that have defined this past year.

CFOs as a Business Partner: Top Finance Trends

There’s been an undeniable shift in focus around finance teams, especially since the 2008 economic collapse. Today’s complex economic and marketplace climate have stressed the importance of responsive finance, decision-making, function, and performance. So how has this impacted the role of the CFO?

  • Technology acceptance. The professional relationship between CFOs and CIOs is traditionally strained, but as data and technology enhance the finance department, that dynamic may continue to positively change. CFOs gain more insight and influence as they get better access to the right information thanks to technology.
  • Thought leadership. As the pace of information quickens, financial executives have become facilitators and drivers of change. Businesses continually engaged in transformational change are able to stay competitive in today’s marketplace and keep their focus on consumers instead of “legacy activities.”
  • Economic adaptation. While slow growth causes frustration for many businesses, CFOs have adapted to the post recession economy and are figuring out more ways to continue growing the bottom line. Instead of increasing profit margins, for instance, CFOs are increasingly searching for ways to cut costs.
  • And much more!

In 2013, the primary trends that shaped the role of the CFO were focused on strategic leadership and business partnership. By adapting to today’s economic and technological climate, CFOs have been able to play more prominent roles in their companies.

How has your own role and career evolved over 2013?