There are a number of huge issues likely to shape the debate. In some quarters, we have seen more CFOs come from non-traditional finance and accounting backgrounds, particularly those with banking and deal-making in their career history.
Then there are regional trends as to the likely backgrounds of CFOs. One could also ask if the changing footprint and focus of business operations (more on emerging markets / less on western mature markets) might raise the longer term possibility of an increase in Asia-based CFOs leading western organisations in the future.
There are also other significant factors shaping the talent equation. For instance, the growth in shared services, outsourcing and the increasing trend towards global business services may significantly change the geographic footprint of future finance talent pools.
Another question is whether technological changes would lead to exponential changes in the face of finance operations rendering traditional CFO / finance skills less relevant? One could also mull over whether finance functions are likely to reduce their headcount more generally and the finance talent pool shrinks as a result (the more for less idea)?
All of these things are quite possible, but I am bound to say that I still think there is a bright future for traditional finance and accounting training in the face of all these developments.
A core grounding in finance essentials is always likely to be beneficial, but also other attributes that can be gained through training towards a professional accounting qualification – a critical mind-set, being able to exercise professional judgement, and above all else the “independence” that finance professionals can bring to decision making that is enshrined in their training.
From me, these qualities should always stand the test of time. Do you agree/disagree?