He’s the Chief Financial Officer of Carbar, Australia’s leading car subscription platform, and as few as five years ago he may not have felt comfortable using these words.
In 2015, Tao was working as a management consultant at Accenture. One of his jobs was to consult ASX (Australian Security Exchange) company CFOs on global best practices.
Says Tao, “We often advised CFOs that a high-performing finance function created added value through developing scalable systems and data analytical capabilities.”
This was considered a marked progression from conventional thinking that said a CFO was a company’s head accountant. Traditionally, a CFO took old figures and reported on them; they “kept score” as Zuora CEO Tien Tzuo recently put it. Accenture felt a modern CFO needed to do significantly more than that.
But the role of CFO continues to be in a state of flux, and Tao says the advice he would have given half a decade ago would now be only partly relevant.
“It’s evolved again,” says Tao. “A CFO is not just looking at historical numbers, looking at cost and systems, but is really being a lot more strategic and that goes to where the world is heading. Businesses are changing rapidly. The environment is shifting and there are different externalities impacting your business.”
Tao continues, “It’s important for a CFO to work very closely with the CEO to navigate these changes and be able to think more laterally – and more strategically – on how to support the business to take advantage of certain opportunities and defend against certain risks.”