CFO ConneX Inaugural Event

Virtual event: 10 September

We deconstructed the opening panel on the changing leadership role of the CFO into 5 questions.

  • What has been the biggest impact of coronavirus virus on your business?
  • Do you see this as a temporary or permanent impact?
  • How has this affected your role as a CFO leading the business?
  • How has the need to manage risk more closely changed your relationship with other stakeholders?
  • How has the finance function coped during this time?

The three panelists were CFOs from the pharma, tech and manufacturing sectors, so it was no surprise that the coronavirus has had very different impact on these businesses.

In pharma, there has been a greater urgency to develop products to combat infectious diseases. In tech, the income from services has remained steady with a boost in demand for outsourcing. However, in manufacturing the challenges in managing a physical supply chain, and the squeeze in demand and liquidity from customers, has been very challenging.

The panelists agreed that the trading impacts were likely to be temporary, although hard to predict the duration of the hiatus. What was perhaps surprising was the common ground on some aspects of more permanent change.

  • All the businesses were already on a path towards digitisation of their finance functions but agreed that the coronavirus has been a catalyst in driving that process faster, even if this is not always naturally within the team’s comfort zone.
  • All the businesses agreed that the extent of business travel will not return to the levels seen before the coronavirus, leading to permanent savings, but probably longer working days on video conferencing.
  • The need for updated risk radar, more frequent forecasting and a more comprehensive business continuity plan means that CFOs are going to have a more deeply engaged relationship with the broader set of stakeholders
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