Exploring the Future of Finance: Highlights from CFO Summit 2024

26th CFO Summit 2024

With a dynamic gathering of finance leaders and industry experts, the 26th edition of the CFO Summit 2024 took place on April 19th at the Renaissance Racecourse Hotel in Bengaluru. Among the honoured participants was the GSTrobo team, the tax platform of Binary Semantics, contributing to insightful discussions and shaping the trajectory of finance and taxation in the digital age.

Throughout the CFO leadership summit, the illustrious set of panelists and attendees participated in discussions revolving around the role of CFOs as strategic partners, how they are building roads to innovations and digital transformation and much more.

Major Discussions at CFO Summit 2024

Changing roles of CFOs in Today’s Times – From Budget Management to Strategic Partnership

A panel of leading CFOs at the prestigious CFO leadership summit  stressed the changing roles of a CFO and the finance teams in general. A notable shift from being budget modulators to being dynamic strategists is what CFOs today look like. The finance teams are always looking ahead, thinking about and planning where they will see the company a year from now.

They emphasised the interconnectedness of strategy, financial performance management (FPM), and overall business objectives, highlighting that these aspects cannot be separated. In many organisations, strategy is seamlessly integrated into the CFO’s domain, underscoring the trust placed in CFOs by CEOs and boards of directors.

The speakers noted the depth of analysis and data exploration conducted by finance professionals, recognising their pivotal role in driving impactful decisions that sustain organisational growth. This paradigm shift presents a compelling opportunity for finance teams, including functions such as business partnering and investor relations, to support CEOs and boards in making informed decisions vital for organisational success and continued growth.

The Disruptors

As mentioned at CFO leadership summit by RadhaKrishna Gangisetty, Senior Director – FP&A, Herbalife International India Pvt. Ltd,

“CFO’s role is to know in and out of the business. A CEO’s role is to know in and out of the industry market. Maybe I’ve done that also previously, but now it has grown a lot. While evaluating the in and out of our own company is given, but now more and more disruption is coming from outside industry. So, knowing the broader economy is crucial, how it’s impacting the industry and then the company. I think that is one major thing. Sensing the warnings is very critical.”

The Biggest Challenge

As strategic heroes, facing and quashing challenges is not new to a CFO. So, what are the latest challenges CFOs are facing in 2024? Well, a big one highlighted at the event is finding the right balance.

Praveer Surana, Chief Financial Officer, Atyati Technologies, pointed out at CFO leadership summit that, 

Praveer Surana - 26th CFO Summit 2024

The other problem CFOs encounter daily is the wrong or miscalculated allocation of capital. This seriously puts a dent in the company’s long-term goals. How do we see which business is best aligned with the business objectives, long-term business objectives, and, of course, keeping the profit and liquidity in mind?

So, these are the two things which CFOs see as the biggest challenges and how they overcome them.

The Solution

What sets apart a good and capable CFO from others is the mindset with which they approach any situation and come up with solutions that are sustainable.

The panel deduced that to be a capable CFO; one must first make the big switch of mind shift where they see themselves as strategic partners. This comes with the responsibility of ditching traditional and conservative opinions.

As mentioned at the CFO leadership summit by Praveer Surana, Chief Financial Officer, Atyati Technologies,

“Integrity with diplomacy, I would say, is the key to resolving these challenges. Challenges will continue to exist, but these are the two traits that we need to constantly examine to do justice to our roles.”

Putting The Finance Functions on Autopilot with Technology

When asked about the importance of technology for CFOs, including the role of ChatGPT, Gen A, and AI, and whether they have seen any digital transformation, the panel emphasised the increasing focus on technology and how it’s bringing agility within finance and corporate functions.

Assem Sachdeva, Business Finance & Chief Business Officer from Tata Digital mentioned very rightly that,

“We have seen in the pandemic, with the work of changing business models, changing expectations, I think CFOs are expected to give more attention to the technology side of things. And they are also expected to run a very agile finance and CAO function. So that’s where the intervention is required. Technology has changed the way we as CFOs work to almost 70-80%.

Now with the intervention, I think from a CFO standpoint, or a business standpoint, data and technology have become an integral part of the strategy for the organisation, and I think the importance is huge. Now, for this business transformation, CFOs can play an important role. I think we can be a sponsor of the business transformation. With the CEO, we can define the KPIs, we can define the business models, we can define the business cases and how efficiency we can bring.”

The experts at the CFO leadership summit unanimously agreed that technology plays a centric part in any business, so it can’t be ignored. In fact, as CFOs, they must allocate enough funds to bring new-age technology to stay ahead of industry players and competitors.

26th CFO Summit 2024 Infographics

Data and Predictive Analysis

It was highlighted that the finance teams deal with 50 tasks in hand on daily business, and so it becomes overbearing for heads and teams to do everything manually. Currently, most finance departments are running 50-60% on automation, and the need of the hour is to put all functions on auto-pilot mode while the teams and the CFOs can align their efforts towards the planning part of business along with analysing data and doing corrective and predictive analysis.

Complexities of Compliance in Modern Business

The panel discussion at the CFO leadership summit revolved around the multifaceted nature of compliance, highlighting two main categories: internal and external compliance. Speakers emphasised the challenges faced by organisations, especially in multinational settings, where adherence to diverse regulatory frameworks is essential for both Indian compliance requirements and as well as foreign trades.

While all industry leaders agree on one aspect—the increasing compliance regulations year-on-year—they also underscored that it is critical for safeguarding financial health and reputation, with the absence of investment in compliance posing significant risks.

A speaker at the CFO leadership summit highlighted a PWC report,

“So if I remember correctly, PwC did a study long back, where they done the study of all the organisations who did the compliance well and how their market cap is and they said the companies who really done well compliance, followed the certain procedures, they have a very good market cap compared to others, it also shows how your customers or the investors value your compliance, so it’s not only about the internal things but also the external view.”

While acknowledging the potential of digitalisation and automation in easing compliance burdens, speakers noted the current limitations in leveraging these technologies fully. There is a huge gap between the current technology for financial compliance and what is needed to make compliance procedures more straightforward and quicker.

Moreover, compliance was reframed as a strategic advantage rather than a burden, crucial for attracting investments and ensuring business viability.

Compliance Being Looked Upon as a Game Changer

“Gone are those days when it was seen as a big burden, a big pain, and then it did not require much attention besides the junior finance team. Now, it has got the highest level of visibility. The CEOs, the directors, everybody are looking at how compliant we are as an organisation because they all know that upon an investment, they’re all going to go through a due diligence process, and due diligence is going to bring up what is the level of compliance that the company has, as mentioned by Raghavendra GS, SVP Global Finance, Bounteous x Accolite Digital at CFO Summit 2024.

The discussion also highlighted the complexity and significance of compliance across industries. They unanimously called for proactive and comprehensive compliance management approaches to mitigate risks effectively.

The Many Roles of CFOs in Today’s Times

Traditionally tasked with financial management and reporting, CFOs have transcended their roles to become strategic partners. This is done by leveraging data and technology to guide business transformation in changing times. 

While businesses grapple with economic hit-backs and unpredictable markets globally, CFOs are at the forefront of ensuring agility and resilience. Undoubtedly, they are championing digitalisation efforts to stay ahead of industry trends.

Not forgetting the changing times, when new technology advancements, compliance additions, and industry demands keep surging, CFOs manage it all.

We see the only way to simplify and make the finance roles more manageable is to embrace technology and change.

Solutions like GSTrobo software offer a compelling avenue for CFOs to address regulatory complexities effectively. By automating compliance processes and providing real-time insights, GSTrobo empowers CFOs with an innovative CFO dashboard.

The CFO dashboard is built to provide insights into compliance and finances for predictive analysis. It also ensures adherence to tax regulations while minimising risks and optimising financial operations.

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