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What does the CFO’s changing role mean for you?

More than 150 finance leaders have shared their insights into how the CFO’s role is changing with ICAEW and Board Intelligence. Read about what this means in practice and use our toolkit to make the most of new opportunities to create a fairer future.

Download the full report Insights from CFOs

How forward thinking CFOs can prepare

Whether you’re the CFO of a public company or a privately owned SME, your role is changing. You’re now responsible for measuring all kinds of value — not just financial — and helping to drive it too. While this places new demands on you and your team, it also presents an opportunity.

ICAEW has partnered with Board Intelligence, Accounting for Sustainability and Odgers Berndtson to research the CFO’s role in creating a fairer future. Alongside publishing the insights of finance leaders, we have created a toolkit to help CFOs adapt to their changing roles based on the five levers that we found forward-thinking CFOs are already using. 

The CFO's fairer future toolkit


1. Measure and report on social value

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2. Make non-financial metrics matter

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3. Flex your spending muscles

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4. Take a look at your tax strategy and conduct

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5. Use your voice to tell a different story

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1. Measure and report on social value (even though it’s hard)

The finance team is best equipped to measure and report, whatever the metrics. And we know that what gets measured gets managed. So, if your organisation is serious about creating social value, you and your team need to measure it and report on it — or it won’t happen.


It almost feels as if the ‘F’ in CFO is a misnomer today. At Yeo Valley, we talk about people, planet, and profit and that’s reflected in my title.

Fay Cooke, Chief Impact & Financial Officer, Yeo Valley Production Ltd

Integrating non-financial metrics into everything you do makes sustainability a natural part of your decision-making.

Stephen Oxley, CFO, Johnson Matthey

2. Make non-financial metrics matter — for everyone

As CFO, you hold huge sway over how decisions get taken and the data that is used to inform them. Embed the right metrics and questions into every process that matters — from capital allocation and internal reporting to incentive schemes and target-setting — and you’ll get everyone marching in time and to the beat of a different drum (whatever that sounds like for you).


3. Flex your spending muscles (for good)

As CFO, you hold the purse strings, and the decisions you make about when and how to loosen them can have a huge impact. Changing your procurement criteria can drive action through the supply chain, for example. And you can wield your financial clout to improve conditions for suppliers too, by contracting responsibly and paying on time.


Supporting local businesses is a crucial way to enhance our impact.

Rita Akushi, Pro Vice-Chancellor Finance & Operations, University of London

If you don’t pay your fair share of tax, what’s the point of being environmentally responsible? It’s in the CFO’s gift to make sure our company’s tax conduct is responsible and ethical.

Joel Ripley, CFO, Schroders Personal Wealth

4. Take a long, hard look at your tax strategy and conduct

This isn’t about paying more tax than you should. It’s about questioning whether your tax strategy and conduct is responsible and ethical. It’s also about managing risk, as the world asks ever more challenging questions around corporate tax affairs. If you had to explain your organisation’s tax strategy to your grandchildren — or an angry mob — would you be confident that it could stand up to their scrutiny?


5. Use your voice to tell a different story

The CFO’s voice gets heard, and it’s time to use yours. Craft a narrative around your organisation’s non-financial goals that gets your stakeholders on side. Show the world what you care about — through the projects and initiatives you get involved in and the visibility (and resources) you give them.


When we brought in the real Living Wage, I remember everyone asking me if we could ‘afford it’. But I didn’t think it was a finance question. It was also the right thing to do.

Jenny Hanlon, CFO, Adnams

Our partners

Board Intelligence Accounting for Sustainability Odgers Berndtson

Find out more about Board Intelligence

Find out more about the think tank at Board Intelligence and how you can get involved in the CFO inquiry. Join future events, nominate someone for the interview series, or contribute to the thought leadership.

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