The executive board of the future is expected to have a new member in many companies as the emerging business trend of combining HR, finance, planning, operations and strategy is leading to the establishment of the Chief Performance Officer (CPO). With performance taking front stage in a competitive business landscape, insight from specialised recruitment company Robert Half suggest CFOs have the ambition, skillset and professional development necessary to take on the role of CPO.
This new role has emerged as a result of the aftermath of the financial crisis, increasing globalisation and the growing impact of digital disruption in the workplace. The CPO title first rose to prominence in 2009, when US President Barack Obama appointed one of his staff, Anthony Politano, to the position. Politano describes the role as having the ‘six Cs’: “Collect, consolidate, and condense performance-related data; communicate the results; collaborate with others; and control and govern the process,"  all skills that can be administered by the CFO.
David Jones, Senior Managing Director Robert Half Asia Pacific said: “In volatile market conditions, the most successful companies have key functions working together to drive performance across the business. As the finance function continues to evolve and take a leading role in the overall performance of Australian businesses, so should the role of CFO progress from finance leader to core strategist responsible for the growth and innovation of the company.”
“Increasingly the CFO role is evolving beyond the traditional focus on number crunching and cost-cutting to one of providing crucial strategic insights based on a range of financial and non-financial indicators. However, the CFO is perfectly placed to go beyond providing strategic insights. Because CFOs have an intricate understanding of the organisation’s financial framework, an informed market view of the broader financial environment and an understanding and influence over what’s happening in other business departments, they are perfectly positioned to drive performance and transition into the role of CPO.”
PwC  asserts this new approach “demands a readiness from CFOs and their teams to orchestrate different areas of the business rather than an advisory or oversight role within strategic decision-making”.
David Jones continued: “The executive board of the future is expected to see senior executives transition from solely focusing on the core skills of their business functions into a more comprehensive approach of how their company operates, which will be complemented by the rise of the CPO function.”
“Companies where the finance function ascends past a purely financial orientation to a more strategic and business-driven approach are generally able to effectively grow at a faster pace than their competitors.”
“The role of CPO requires a broad skillset, combining a deep business understanding, analytical acumen and the ability to communicate and engage with business leaders, including board members and fellow executives. In order to make the transition up to CPO, CFOs need an intensive understanding of their business, with a comprehensive grasp of operational functions and the staff who make the day-to-day functions possible. It’s about being able to see the organisation holistically and know how the finance function can make a difference,” David Jones concluded.
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