Lifelong learning is key to success, and that’s never been more true for current and aspiring Finance leaders. As budgeting and planning grow more complex and technology increasingly becomes a foundational element of the role, Finance professionals need to be on top of their game — and there are big opportunities for those who are.
As we head into the fall, think of this list of resources as a back-to-school syllabus. These courses, books, blogs, and podcasts offer up-to-date knowledge, useful training, and fresh insights that can help further your Finance career.
- Secrets of Rockstar CFOs by Jack McCullough
CFO Leadership Council founder McCullough talked to his executive counterparts from tech startups to established Fortune 500 global corporations about their journeys to success. Analyzing those conversations, he hones in on characteristics and strategies that catapulted them from competence to mastery. In sections on ethical leadership, strategic thinking, team building, and more, he offers fresh insights on familiar topics, teasing out the traits and approaches that truly make a difference. It’s a quick read and an efficient way to pick up some useful guidance.
- The 80/20 CFO: How to Make Strategic Transformations in Your Company by Janice Berthold and Suzy Taherian
Being a CFO takes more than being good with numbers — people skills are increasingly crucial. In fact, a CFO’s success often depends on good relationships with key colleagues, even when their goals may be at odds. Yet when the pressure is on — as it often is for newly hired CFOs — developing those connections can be a challenge. The authors spell out a framework for meaningful transformation by showing how CFOs can gain trust and the authority to take action — even when it means radical organizational change. For Finance professionals who need to make an impact fast, this book can be a life-saver.
- Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Greater Value by Jeremy Hope
As most Finance professionals are aware, CFOs no longer focus just on reporting, They’re increasingly contributing to strategy, making forecasts to assist in decision-making and risk management. Yet successfully transitioning to this role can be bumpy, given the complexity of Finance data and the volatile nature of the economic landscape. Author Jeremy Hope, a chartered accountant with a specialty in improving business performance, explains how CFOs can streamline time-consuming tasks to make more time for higher-value activities that drive organizations forward.
Podcasts and Blogs
- CFO Thought Leader, hosted by Jack Sweeney
If you’ve ever wanted a window into the brain of a CFO, this podcast is for you. Former business journalist Jack Sweeney talks to prominent Finance executives about their successes, failures, and challenges, and how each contributed to their journey to become effective, transformative leaders. In the episode “The Power of Patience,” Greg Saunders of Ygrene Energy Fund explains why sometimes taking a more moderately-paced approach to your career may ultimately bring more rewards than running after that sexy high-profile gig. And in “When a Crisis is a Catalyst,” Gregg Clevenger, the CFO of LiveVox, explains how unexpected financial downturns may pose an opportunity, a topic that couldn’t be more timely.
- Modern CFO, hosted by Andrew Seski
In an often chaotic economic landscape, it’s more crucial than ever for Finance leaders to stay informed on new ideas and developments coming down the pike. That’s the idea behind The Modern CFO podcast, which explores how Finance professionals are leveraging technologies and applying innovation to offer more value and push the field forward. Particularly inspiring are the guests focusing on furthering equity and more ethical practices in business, like the interview with a CEO who is helping to expand financing to Caribbean entrepreneurs and the episode with Dave Monahan of Kleer, a more efficient and affordable marketplace for dental insurance. Hosted by Andrew Seski, a longtime Finance and investment professional, the podcast is offered via Nth Round, a technology portal for CFOs to communicate with investors.
- Generation CFO blog and podcast, by Christopher Argent
Founded in 2009 as a digital community, Generation CFO is chock-full of useful information for aspiring and current Finance executives. It’s especially relevant to those interested in “the geekier side” of accounting and finance, i.e., digital transformation and associated technology tips and tools. The blog focuses on thought leadership from Finance professionals in a variety of industries: check out the profile of a director who turned to AI to automate day-to-day tasks or a discussion of the unique opportunities and challenges faced by small businesses. In the podcast, founder Christopher Argent talks to guests to dive into the role CFOs play in startups and to explore how to view the Finance function holistically. There’s a lot to read here, so dig in!
- The Supercharged Finance blog, hosted by Andy Burrows
Finance coach, trainer, and public speaker Andy Burrows brings the same curiosity and enthusiasm he brought to his career in the energy, professional services, and software industries to this blog. Focusing mainly on strategies and approaches to increase one’s effectiveness and impact across a business, he explores topics like how to be a proactive contributor in any Finance role and what to do when other stakeholders aren’t on board with your plans, Essentially, this blog can serve as an online Finance career coach, making it a valuable resource for professionals at every level.
Courses, Certifications, and Reports
- Think Like a CFO course, by Marc Badia, Miguel Antón, and Javier Estrada
Offered through Coursera, this four-class program is designed to help early-career Finance professionals grasp how all the various elements of the function work together to form the big picture CFOs must see. Led by professors from the highly ranked graduate business program at the University of Navarre in Spain, content covers accounting essentials, reading reports with a manager’s perspective, and understanding the interaction and impact of companies and their investors. It’s not just rote learning either: a project preparing a cash flow statement offers hands-on practice in applying principles taught throughout the course. Offered free online with a flexible timeline, it’s the perfect option for aspiring CFOs who want to gain essential knowledge and add to their skills on a busy schedule.
This established learning community offers free and premium courses across the range of CFO functions, divided into four pillars: Accounting, Finance, Treasury, and Leadership. Finance courses emphasize three essential competencies: budgeting and planning, financial forecasting, and investment analysis. If you’re not sure where to start, the site offers a free online assessment to help identify which of their many classes are most appropriate for your level of knowledge and career goals. Plus, there is a plethora of tools like calculators, matrices, and templates to support your studies. Other resources include a robust library of articles and podcasts for research, more context, or self-guided exploration.
- Transforming Finance: Speed, Agility, Flexibility and Vision, from Prophix
To be effective in today’s organizational environment, Finance leaders must transition from a reactive to a proactive mindset. Implementing appropriate technologies can help Finance departments respond more quickly to market changes, provide more transparency into data and its implications, and automate routine processes. This digital transformation can inform and improve three operations we think are essential for a strategic, forward-thinking Finance department: scenario planning, rolling forecasts, and zero-based budgeting. Prophix created a series of reports to provide Finance professionals with an overview of each as well as practical guidance for getting from here to there.
Research and News
- What will be important to CFOs in 2021?, from PwC
Finance leaders must look up now and then and consider the future–especially at the current moment, as the very nature of work undergoes a massive transformation. From implementing the right technologies to workforce planning, CFOs will play a major part in shaping the landscape for organizations across all kinds of industries. This report culls findings from surveys conducted by PwC and organizes them into six topics: the future of work, including the hybrid work model; digital transformation as a way to be more agile and resilient; the importance of setting and living up to values and ESG; how to make the journey back to growth; tax policy changes and scenario planning; and the critical nature of diversity and inclusivity. Taken together, the report can help leaders chart a course for the next several years.
- FP&A Trends, from FP&A Trends Group
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop for your continuing Finance education with a focus on technology, this just might be the place. Explore and find blog posts on topics like how to implement a data-driven culture in your organization and videos on taking analytics to the next level created by prominent thought leaders in the field. The site also offers frequent webinars that demystify trends and analyze case studies. Well-organized and easy to navigate, it’s one to bookmark.
- FEI Daily, from Financial Executives International
This industry news site offers resources across the breadth of the Finance role, including strategy, leadership, and crisis management, to help develop well-rounded leaders. In addition to comprehensive reports and surveys, there are frequent webinars on industry trends, best practices, discussions with Finance leaders, and career guidance. Blog posts by Finance professionals cover everything from making real progress on DEI to a list of essential skills. Virtual conferences and networking events provide opportunities to learn from others, while FEI members can access self-study courses to further their education.
- CFO Daily, from FORTUNE
If anyone has their finger on the pulse of emerging trends of interest to CFOs, it’s FORTUNE. The magazine’s daily Finance-related newsletter featuring news, analysis, and opinion is timely, insightful, and easy to digest. Recent topics include how to integrate freelance Finance professionals into your team and accounting methods for cryptocurrency. From game-changing innovations to new angles on essential functions, there’s always something interesting to chew over–and it just might change the way you approach your work.
School Is Now In Session
Whether you’re just getting your feet wet as a Finance professional or have years under your belt, these resources offer a convenient way to keep up with the field, hone your skills, and help you develop the habit of continuous learning.
Learn more about digital transformation in Finance and how to get started: explore our online resources.