The Empowered CFO: The Emerging Role of the Finance Office in Large Corporations

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s study examines how CFOs have a higher profile than ever before, in companies large and small. The role of the CFO at forward-looking companies has in recent years expanded beyond the traditional one of overseeing financial reporting and controls and has begun supporting the development of the business. The question is, do CFOs and their staff have the resources necessary to achieve this broader mandate?


Key findings include:

  • There is a trend towards centralised, higher-profile finance functions with authority to monitor performance and liaise with business units at all levels.
  • Finance departments are increasingly likely to focus on strategic analysis and decision-support, to initiate and use company-wide performance indicators, and to form ad hoc teams to address business issues. 
  • CFOs today look for staff with broad business skills in addition to staff with specific financial know-how.
  •  The management practices of finance departments are in a transition phase, with some departments empowering staff executives to act autonomously and take risks.
  •  Companies are also in transition when it comes to automating routine functions, with about one- half of the companies surveyed fairly well advanced, and the others still using legacy systems and manual processing.

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