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Editor’s letter: CFOs to be digitally ‘challenged’

WHAT DOES the new year herald? Are you already counting the days until Easter? Or perhaps you’re thinking about a spring-clean of your career prospects?

There’s a thread of ‘digital promise’ throughout this month’s issue of Financial Director. In other words, digital experience – whatever form it may take – is important to your future, and that of board governance in general.

Most FDs perform a seal-like balancing act by wearing multiple hats: HR, IT, facilities, risk etc. The idea of being the board’s digital evangelist will fill many FDs with dread. Can they wear another hat? Probably not. But becoming a tech guru is not really the point – and isn’t something that FDs necessarily have to aspire to. The example of Patrick Burrows, London City Airport CFO, is one that sets a template for digitally focused success.

He sees his finance background and skillset as perfect for helping make the most use of data – in other words, understanding what questions need to be asked and gauging how well the information at hand can be moulded to help inform strategic decision-making. Perhaps ‘chief analysis officer’ will become a fashionable alternative to the CFO title? I would have suggested ‘chief information officer’, but I think that’s already taken.

Of course, you may well want to carry on as you were and aim for a big job in the FTSE 350. Our 2015 FD Salary Survey indicates that such a path is a lucrative one.

But bear in mind: if the thought of acquiring, borrowing or finding lots of data, and coming up with creative ways to analyse and interpret that information, doesn’t suit, then you probably won’t get a 350 role – and you could well find yourself heading to the Retirement Home for Defunct FDs.

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