3 Insights from the “Morphing the New Age CFO” panel at 13th Asian Insurance CFO Summit 2019

The role of the CFO has vastly changed from the regulatory and reporting to a far more dynamic one that is heavily involved in business and strategy. At the 13th Asian Insurance CFO Summit organised by the Asia Insurance Review on May 28th and 29th, Founder & CEO of zenflow Florian Cornu participated in a panel discussion titled “Morphing the New Age CFO”.

Moderated by Scott Ryrie (Co-CEO A.M. Best Asia-Pacific), the panel featured finance experts Richard Saggers (Munich Re Regional CFO, Japan, India, Korea & SEA), and Varsha Bipinchandra (Chief Finance & Risk Officer, Singapore Life).

Florian Cornu, Varsha Bipinchandra, Scott Ryrie, and Richard Saggers (from left to right)

Over the 45 minutes of discussions, several interesting stories were shared by the panelists.

1. The role of the CFO has vastly changed from the regulatory and reporting to a far more dynamic one that is heavily involved in business and strategy.

CFOs should embrace technological advances and explore tools for digitalising financial processes, which frees them to focus on initiatives with strategic significance.

According to Richard Saggers, most of his time in office is spent on strategy and generation of business ideas. “CFOs should spend less time generating numbers, and more time making a difference to the business,” he said.

2. To maximise team productivity and impact to the business, automation of processes is key.

CFOs can have a huge positive impact on team productivity by giving employees the resources to achieve goals. In fact, companies which are open to modern software can move faster.

“Automating everything from start to finish brings tremendous value to the business,” said Varsha Bipinchandra. “For Singapore Life, a cloud based infrastructure gives us more agility and opportunities to plug and play.”

3. High-performing CFOs are great with people, too.

The new age CFO needs to be a versatile, well-rounded individual with high EQ, soft skills and the ability to take risks. For example, in this technological age, CFOs will commonly face situations where they are required to make fast decisions based on imperfect information and reading situations.

Florian Cornu compared this CFO shift to that of modern CMOs, who needs to be both creative and well-versed in data science. “Nowadays, a good marketer needs to understand numbers and engineering: they need to know how to run A/B tests and make decisions based on their results for example” he said.

Clearly, it’s all about automation

Whether in an MNC, a SME or a startup, the modern CFO should be an ambassador for change by championing technology that automates manual work, while putting valuable time into maximising strategic impact to the business.

How can you apply this in your business?

For a start, explore software tools like the accounting software Xero, which offers time-saving features for busy finance professionals – such as invoicing, bill payments, bank reconciliation and tax calculation.

Then, look at friendly reporting apps such as reporting apps like zenflow which integrate with Xero to transform financial data into meaningful insights. With features like instant group consolidation, automated schedules, financial trends and cashflow forecast, zenflow instantly gives CFOs an overview of the company’s financial story.

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