The COVID-19 global public health crisis has emphasized the need for chief financial officers to be more than financial leaders, asserts the consulting firm of Korn Ferry KFY -2% based on a new survey of 276 CFOs globally.

“Almost half (45 percent) of the CFOs surveyed said the two capabilities most critical to the future of the finance function were operational information (such as reporting and analytics), and strategy enablement—both beating out more specialized finance skills,” says the report.

The CFOs told the consulting firm they expected specialized finance expertise such as capital budgeting/capital allocation, financial governance, accounting services, and taxation will become less important for the profession.

That importance is also shown in the top two concerns keeping CFOs up at night are organizational alignment (23 percent) and the need to align finance with overall business strategy (13 percent).

The need for CFOs to evolve is heighten by the morphing responsibilities of chief executive officers.

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“If the CEO is becoming more externally facing, CFOs need to elevate and become an enterprise leader. If the CEO is a functional leader, CFOs need to be a strategic leader…(CFOs) need to have a nimbleness and an ability to deal with ambiguity,” recommends Korn Ferry Financial Officers Practice North American Leader Barry Toren.

About a third of the CFOs surveyed said greater alignment on strategic initiatives would improve their relationship with the CEO while a fourth said they wanted greater communication and more face time with the boss.