John Murdock, CEO of Centage, predicts in the coming years, finance teams will recruit more graduates with business and operational knowledge, not just accounting degrees, he said to CFO Dive.
According to Murdock, financial technology in particular is upending the traditional CFO job description and function.
Murdock also believes more CFOs will have a non-traditional path to leadership, that technology will increase the demand for strategic thinkers, and the finance and engineering fields will merge, largely due to robotic process automation (RPA) integration.
"A data and science background [has] blended into finance," Murdock told CFO Dive. "I think that’s reflecting what’s happening in the market. There are a lot of processes that you can automate now. With software applications, more and more of our customers are using more software to run their business."
Centage, a cloud planning, forecasting and business budgeting service, works to help finance leaders utilize intelligent planning. For each client, Murdock says, "You have to be comfortable with using technology to run the business."
Murdock sees Centage customers — mainly finance leaders — building out their skill sets around core accounting and technology. "We see all of that converging and putting pressure on the finance function," he said. "[Centage] serves small- and medium-sized businesses, so most of our customers don’t have large finance or accounting functions to begin with."
From his vantage point as CEO, Murdock thinks the CFO has clearly become "a very strategic role" in helping to guide decision-making and strategy across the organization. "CFOs can go out and understand the business, and add value way beyond traditional accounting and reporting," he said.
Murdock says that, across industries, we’re in the early stages of full RPA integration becoming the norm, and with good reason.
"Finding ways to streamline is super important, especially in the modern era, where every business is inundated with data and information," he said. "You don’t have an operational mindset, AI, or different tech to streamline the business. Just having that mindset that technology adoption and efficiency can help a business run more effectively certainly applies to finance."
Murdock expressed his advice for the CFOs that Centage partners with. "Lean in and embrace the technology and what’s possible," he said. "What you can do now with automation and technology can really open up opportunities for a business, and help you, as a CFO or VP of finance, to add a lot of value. This is such an exciting time."