In financial year 2022, there was no women CFO in the list of companies comprising stock index Nifty 50. Also, women held the position of chief financial officer (CFO) in less than 5% of the Nifty 250 companies, according to a study by the IFMR Graduate School of Business at Krea University and Dun & Bradstreet (D&B). The study quoted S. Mahalingam, Fomer CFO of Tata Consultancy Services as saying, “ We usually do not see women in many top positions, and this is a major problem. It is not that women lag in finance. Companies have not done a great job in creating women CFOs but it should happen in the future with greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion.”
Titled “The Future CFO: Changing Roles, Changing Goals”, the study is based on quantitative and qualitative insights from dozens of Indian CFOs and outlines the changing role of CFOs, key capabilities and competencies needed for CFOs of the future, and their shifting priorities and newer responsibilities.
To capture the demographic changes, D&B analysed the Nifty 250 companies—Nifty 50, Nifty Next 50 and Nifty Midcap 150 index companies for FY16 and FY22 to see how the needle had moved over this period across different facets and to mine insights. D&B chose the Nifty 250 set as it represents more than 70% of sales for FY22 of India Inc. and constitute about 86% of market capitalisation of the listed NSE universe.
The study also pointed out that finance executives with an MBA degree experienced faster career growth. In Nifty 250, 47% of CFOs with an MBA are under 50 years as compared with 35% with non-MBA qualification for FY22.
“Today’s CFOs play multiple roles — they are trusted partners to CEOs on not just financial but also strategic matters, conscience-keepers of Boards in enhancing stakeholder trust, storytellers deriving hindsights, insights and foresights from financial data, and PE-minded investors strengthening core businesses with investments in next-gen start-ups,” Ramkumar Ramamoorthy, pro vice-chancellor for Professional Learning at Krea University.
According to the study, 86% of CFOs gave high importance to digital technologies. CFOs want to transition from ‘systems of record’ to ‘systems of engagement and intelligence’. Also from accounting, auditing, financial planning, CFOs are now deeply involved in corporate strategy, organizational transformation, digitisation and ESG implementation.
“The relationship between a CEO and a CFO is critical for any business. Our study found that the ability to envision the business growth is the most important trait for a CFO. To be a trusted partner to the CEO, CFOs need newer skills to address newer demands of the market,” Preeta Misra, senior director, Dun & Bradstreet India, said. “The finance team now needs to become a multidisciplinary team to champion organisational transformation, to manage existing challenges and capitalise on newer opportunities,” she added.