CFOs have never faced more disruption than they are witnessing today. In a world of unexpected political crises, the ever-charging pace of technology and the growing expectation that they adopt the role of strategic business partner, the CFO is on the cutting age of change.
To make sense of this new world, CFO Rising West in San Francisco is back, bringing together big names from various industries for a thorough two days of presentations, panels sessions, knowledge sharing and networking.
So, what can you expect from CFO's flagship event?
1. Insights into AI, automation and how this affects the present-day CFO
New technology's such as AI and RPA are making financial processes ever more efficient, as well as enhancing budgeting and forecasting methods. For example, according to EY, using RPA for high-frequency repeated tasks will see a 50–70% reduction of costs for businesses.
AI and RPA will likely replace the more repetitive finance roles with a more efficient "robotic touch". Finance positions will only be enhanced when individuals embrace new technology such as automation.
"McKinsey says that robots will replace 800 million jobs by 2030," Kathryn Sharrett, CFO of Financial Services Compensation Scheme, stated at CFO Rising Europe. "There is a fear that people will lose their jobs and the harsh reality is that some may, but they will be replaced by new roles."
Now is the time for individuals working in finance to prepare themselves for these new roles by utilizing new technologies, rather than rejecting it and becoming outdated themselves.
"The World Economic Forum talks about a skills revolution, and with this comes a raft of new opportunities" Sharrett continues. "The face of finance is changing. Existing finance roles will morph, and instead we will see a focus on independent thinking, values and teamwork, as the repetitive/routine is replaced by automation."
At the CFO Rising West Summit, speakers and delegates will discuss methods of overcoming job losses caused by automation, and how AI can be used as a highly effective tool to make the CFO role more efficient and the finance function more seamless.
On Day One, expect an invigorating panel on "Using AI and RPA as a Tool to Contain Costs and Enhance Budgeting & Forecasting" featuring finance leaders from Samsung, Smartlabs, Mopro and Vera Whole Health.
2. Lessons on how the CFO role will fare in a world of escalating trade wars and tariffs
2018 is a year that has been dominated by the peril of an imminent 'Trade War' across the globe, threatening to damage economies and stifle innovation, or worse.
Trump's enthusiasm for implementing tariffs and sparking trade wars has been widely and enthusiastically reported, and he has been famously quoted as saying "trade wars are good, and easy to win". What's more, he's backed his words with real actions, as he has steadily begun to implement harsh tariffs, including a new 10% tariff increase on $200bn worth of import from China , announced in the middle of September.
Maurice Obstfeld, the IMF's economic counselor, stated that "the multilateral rules-based trade system that evolved after World War Two and that nurtured unprecedented growth in the world economy needs strengthening. Instead, it is in danger of being torn apart".
It's this world that the CFO is facing today.
On Day One, Ryan Quattlebaum, CFO at Adventist Health, will be delivering a presentation on "The CFOs Response to Tariffs & Trade Wars", during which he will address how you can prepare for change in this uncertain climate.
Check if you are eligible for free entry to the must-attend event for finance leaders, CFO Rising West in San Francisco, on October 17–18, 2018. Tickets start from $1,695 or are free for first-time attendees eligible for a VIP Pass. Apply with this simple form here: http://bit.ly/2pF2U0B
3. Techniques for leveraging the human cloud to optimize P&L
As the world becomes increasingly globalized and digitized, workforces no longer necessarily have to rely on the typical office 9–5 format. This has led to the rise of the "human cloud", which the Financial Times defines as "a type of workforce where tasks or projects, not jobs, are performed remotely or on-demand by people who are not employees but independent workers".
Having a workforce which is potentially scattered around the globe has impacted the role of the CFO hugely and affected P&L practices dramatically. However, the human cloud comes with some real positives for finance practices, as the flexibility and bringing together of different cultural styles can be a driver for revitalizing change and innovation within the department.
At the summit, we will debate how best to tackle the problems that are thrown up by the human cloud, but also how it can be a resource for optimizing P&L. On Day One, Cathleen Nilson, head of finance at Samsung, will be advising "How to Leverage the Human Cloud to Optimize Company P&L".
4. How to battle the increasing risks to cybersecurity
According to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey of 2017, 70% of businesses have experienced a cyberattack of some form, so it's not surprising that cybersecurity is one of the biggest concerns for businesses in 2018. And if it's not, then those companies will find themselves asking for trouble.
The expectation is now that the CFO's responsibilities stretch beyond finance and into risk mitigation meaning that, increasingly, high-level finance executives must take the helm with regard to cybersecurity.
Steffan Tomlinson, CFO of Palo Alto Networks, recently stated: "As the threat of cyberattacks and cyber risk continues to increase, I foresee CFOs across the world learning, adapting and building competency to successfully address this critical challenge.
"There are many creative approaches I have witnessed CFOs employ to build their skill in cybersecurity, but the one that most commonly stands out is when the CFO views cybersecurity through the lens of enterprise risk management," he advised.
At the summit, we will deliberate on how the CFO can take on their new task as a C-suite driver of cybersecurity.
5. Understanding the business implications of tax reform
On December 22, 2017, Trump signed into law the most substantial reform of US tax since 1986, which came into effect on January 1. According to a survey by CFO Signals, 60% of the 155 CFOs representing large North American companies surveyed anticipate high complexity in implementing the new laws in their everyday.
One-third of respondents said they would need to structure or restructure their tax function off the back of these changes. This is a huge undertaking for any finance team and the pressure is on CFOs to deliver a comprehensive approach to the changes.
The implications of this tax reform are still being established, but it will most certainly have a huge impact on the role of the CFO and what form this will take will be discussed at length at the summit. Additionally, Day Two of CFO Rising West will conclude with a roundtable discussion on "What CFOs need to know – How Tax Reform Will Affect Your Company's Corporate Tax Practices".
6. Engaging presentations and opportunities to network with some of the key players operating in the financial world today
Some of the biggest names working in finance in some of the most fascinating companies will be coming together to speak at the event about tackling all these issues.
Sharing ideas and stories of success are among the best ways to stay ahead in the tumultuous world of finance and the most effective methods of propelling sustainable innovation to respond to the constant disruption within the sector.
Don't miss: Nike finance director Tatiana Campos talk on Day Two "Cracking the Code: Success Stories of the Modern Finance Professional" for inspiration you can bring back to revitalize your finance team.