Business and Industry | Business Strategy | Corporate Finance & Governance | Technology

Communication, analytics skills important for controllers, CFOs

Communication skills have always been important drivers of success for senior-level financial executives. With technological advances taking place at a blinding pace, the need for analytics and communication skills has never been greater. Finance leaders who can interpret and explain the impact of information, think strategically, and guide their enterprises into the future will be in high demand. Those who seek to retain the status quo will likely be severely disrupted.

“The ability to clearly communicate is the skill most often missing from people who are a step or three away from earning a promotion to CFO,” Home Depot finance chief Carol Tome told CFO magazine. CFOs frequently have to interact not only within the C-suite, but also with IT, investors, banks, and rating agencies. As she told CFO, “a big key is understanding that your message is all about your audience, and not about you.”

Cheryl Duvall, an organizational development expert and sought-after speaker, adds that the ability to communicate effectively is at the heart of everyday success.

“Business executives are especially challenged to choose the most appropriate style and delivery of communications, whether verbal or written, to achieve their objectives with clients as well as staff,” says Duvall, who will be leading the kickoff event of the MACPA’s 2017-18 Quarterly Financial Leaders Series.

Duvall’s session, set to take place on Sept. 14, will explore best practices of seven communication strategies while engaging attendees in small-group breakouts where they can immediately apply knowledge to real-life examples. Participants will be encouraged to share recent experiences, especially related to handling conflict or engaging in negotiations, for added learning.

The why of EPM and BICFOs and controllers also need to be up to speed in advances in enterprise resource planning (ERP), enterprise performance management (EPM), corporate performance management (CPM), data analytics and business intelligence (BI).

“The era of digital transformation has created a major paradigm shift in how businesses characterize the IT and finance functions,” says Jim Perry of Infor. “To succeed in today’s digital economy, companies must move beyond deeply entrenched ‘people / process / technology’ frameworks and adopt a fundamentally different model for organizational transformation, one that is more in sync with our networked economy.”

The critical need for advanced skills in strategy and technology for CFOs and controllers was also noted in a study by Deloitte earlier this year.

Gary Cokins, an internationally recognized expert, speaker, and author in advanced cost management and performance improvement systems, says, “With increasing globalization, volatility, and uncertainty, the new adage is ‘disrupt or be disrupted.’

“Many companies still use stale practices from the 1960s,” says Cokins. “Today’s enterprise and corporate performance management (EPM/CPM) methods embedded with analytics are now viewed as the seamless integration of managerial methods that preserves a company’s competitiveness.”

You can learn more about EPM/CPM and business intelligence when Cokins leads the second installment of the Quarterly Financial Leaders Series on Nov. 30.

Quarterly Financial Leaders SeriesThe 2017-18 Quarterly Financial Leaders Series includes the following:

A $50 discount is available if you sign up for three sessions, and a $100 discount is available if you sign up for all four. Access/register for multiple sessions in the Quarterly Financial Leaders Series at


Edith Orenstein