Australia's finance directors are struggling in a digital world

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Australian CFOs feel they don’t currently have the capabilities needed to take on more strategic and operational responsibilities.

Most expect to take on more responsibilities and half say they need to build their digital understanding, according to the latest EY global CFO study.

The sixth annual survey also found that traditional career paths are changing, with only 40% of CFOs globally being qualified accountants.

The DNA of the CFO 2016 report, based on a survey of nearly 800 finance leaders worldwide, found that digital innovation, the proliferation of data, new regulations and increasingly demanding stakeholders are combining to disrupt and reshape the CFO role.

A lot of the CFOs surveyed (82%) across Australia and New Zealand expect they will be asked to take on wider operational leadership roles beyond finance.

This is significantly higher than the global average of 64%.

And EY says it’s concerning that 62% of local CFOs say the current finance function does not have the right mix of capabilities to meet future strategic priorities (compared to 47% globally).

“Our latest CFO research study has found that change has accelerated even more rapidly than many would have thought possible,” says Donal Graham, EY finance management consulting leader for Oceania.

More than half (54%) of local CFOs surveyed said they are now spending more time providing analysis, such as data-driven analytics and strategic risk assessments, to support the CEO and senior leadership team.

“Finance chiefs are being required to evaluate their organisation’s investment in digital, challenging them to find new metrics to measure business cases and return on investment,” says Graham.

The survey found a marked difference between the career paths of CFOs globally and those in Oceania.

Only 40% of CFOs surveyed globally had a professional accounting qualification.

In Australia and New Zealand, the majority (88%) hold a professional accounting qualification. In contrast, global CFOs were more than twice as likely as Oceania CFOs to have an MBA.

“The business environment is more complex, interconnected and unpredictable than ever,” says Graham.

“Digitisation, data, stakeholder scrutiny and risk volatility are changing the rules of the game and CFOs, like all leaders, need to adapt to this increasing complexity, focusing on the attributes and skills that their companies will need to succeed in the future.”

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.