AI and the new CFO: mentorship, automation, and value creation

Our Managing Partner Claudia Paoletti on stage at the Richmond Finance Forum with a speech on The Revolution of the CFO in the Age of A.I.: The Effects of Automation on the Role and New Skills to be Implemented.

From 28 February to 1 March, the Winter edition of the Richmond Finance Forum was held at the Grand Hotel in Rimini, where our Managing Partner Claudia Paoletti gave two speeches entitled “The Revolution of the CFO in the Age of A.I.: The Effects of Automation on the Role and New Skills to be Implemented”.

Now here are some insights to share from her speech:

The financial world is undergoing an unprecedented revolution, driven by artificial intelligence (A.I.). In particular, the role of the Chief Financial Officer is rapidly evolving. Let’s see what skills are essential for CFOs of today and of the future.


The CFO as director of digital transformation

Digital transformation is now a priority for many companies. The CFO, formerly focused mainly on accounting and finance, is becoming and must become a facilitator and influencer of digital transformation. His ability to redefine mindsets and processes is crucial in driving the company into the future, especially considering that he is the key facilitator between the Board and all other functions. He therefore has a huge responsibility to take up the new challenges and translate them into operational terms.


Active listening and business response

The CFO can no longer operate only on the margins of the company. He must be at the centre of strategic decisions. Active listening is crucial to understanding the needs of the business and responding in a timely manner. The CFO must be ready to move from the periphery to the heart of the action.


The CFO as mentor and valoriser of human capital

Generating trust and enhancing human capital are essential skills for the CFO of today. His or her role as a mentor is crucial for developing talent and guiding the team towards success.


Agility and adaptation: innovative projects for rapid results

The CFO must be agile and ready to adapt to the changes that are the order of the day in a BANI (Brittle Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensible) era. Innovative projects, such as the automation of financial transactions, can bring rapid results and improve efficiency. The extra A.I. can certainly help in analysing data and making timely and new decisions.


Lateral thinking and creative solutions

Dealing with changing situations requires lateral thinking. The CFO must be able to find creative solutions to complex problems. It is a role that is increasingly exposed to demands in terms of innovation and the emergence of new business within the business.


Outsourcing of teams and nanagement skills

Outsourcing of teams is an increasingly adopted strategy. The CFO must have influence, management and project management skills to ensure the success of such initiatives.


Continuous learning in finance

The CFO must stay on top of trends and technologies in finance. Continuous learning is essential to stay relevant and drive the company towards success.


The potential of artificial intelligence

According to the World Economic Forum (Davos, January 2024), CFOs play a key role in capitalising on the potential of artificial intelligence. Generative AI offers substantial applications that can benefit everyday work:

  • Fewer human errors: automation reduces human errors in financial operations.
  • More precise information: AI provides detailed analysis and accurate predictions.
  • Elimination of human bias: AI makes decisions based on data, without personal influence.
  • Faster financial reporting: Automated processes for timely financial reports.
  • But above all, and this is the key point, ‘more time for value-added activities’: automation frees the CFO from manual tasks, allowing him to concentrate on strategy and planning.


A few pieces of advice to maintain your competitive edge

Claudia Paoletti during one of her Speeches at the Richmond Finance Director Forum speaking about CFOs and AI

As mentioned, the CFO’s skills are evolving rapidly, and to successfully face the future, it is essential to adapt. Here are some key activities for CFOs who wish to bring innovation to their role:

  1. Assessing the magnitude of the challenge: finance teams increasingly focus on forecasting analysis and using data to support planning and decision-making processes. A CFO must address decision-making biases and construct consequence analyses of projects to assess financial impact.
  2. Developing soft skills: Flexibility and adaptability are crucial. Change your mindset and embrace change as an opportunity. Be ready to learn new skills and adapt to new roles.
  3. Focus on human skills: AI can automate repetitive tasks, but human creativity and empathy are irreplaceable. Cultivate these skills.
  4. Explore new careers: Keep yourself open to opportunities and consider new career paths. Most of the roles of the future have not yet been invented! Linearity of career paths will be a concept to be reviewed in the future, so be prepared.
  5. Networking and connections: Build relationships with colleagues, industry experts and professionals. Connections can open doors and provide new perspectives.
  6. Update your skills by participating in workshops and training projects and improve your digital and language skills to expand your global reach.


In summary, the CFO of the future must be an agile leader, open to innovation and ready to capitalise on the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence. Only then will he be able to lead the company to success in an ever-changing world.