The evolving responsibilities of CFOs

The driving force behind big business often are the chief financial officers (CFOs) who confront head-on whatever challenge the market environment throws at them, according to local investment holding firm Pure Energy Holdings Corp.

At an executive discussion at the third CFO Innovation Forum, Victor Lee, Pure Energy Holdings CFO (PEHC), said that, as senior managers responsible for overseeing the financial activities of entire companies, finance executives are vanguards of companies focusing on high-level, strategic decision-making rather than corporate finance.

“Traditionally regarded as financial gatekeepers of companies’ balance sheet, CFOs now bear heavier burdens establishing themselves as business enablers,” Lee said.

According to Lee, operating in challenging environment pushes CFOs out of their comfort zones and take on more significant roles in management, especially for companies facing new regulations and macroeconomic pressures, such as the renewable energy business of PEHC.

He added that the role of the CFOs is evolving, as the function of CFOs no longer centers on financial matters alone. Financial executives are compelled to understand the business, as well as line managers to properly make projections of growth, which includes finding ways to support nimble start-up ideas without compromising the financial integrity of the company.

Lee also said CFOs can provide more valuable insights and analysis to strengthen their roles and relationships with the CEO and the rest of the company’s organizations, which will allow them to identify areas where improvements and efficiencies can be made in the organization.

Lee, a former Wall Street banker who now heads the finance department of more than 12 groups of companies, said CFOs should also be more forward- and outward-looking.

“CFOs are at the center of ensuring that strategies are maximized from new and existing ones,” he said.

Last, Lee urged executives to take advantage of present technology to improve or boost business practices.

“Modern technology is going to play an increasingly prominent role in the CFOs’ function. It gives CFOs more influence and business vision, offering them the opportunity to expand their own position, from financial vanguards to business enablers,” he added.

According to him, PEHC invests in community development and livelihood programs through the implementation of its social responsibility and nonprofit initiatives.

The CFO Innovation Philippines, forming part of the series of forums in Asia, was attended by industry leaders and lead finance personnel discussing various companies in the Philippines and shared insights helping CFOs risk-proof their businesses and gain a better understanding of today’s economic environment and industry issues.

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