Challenges remain for many organisations when it comes to ensuring that people working in senior shared service and transformation roles do not face additional barriers in making the transition to the top finance job of Chief Financial Officer (CFO), according to the latest report from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

While some organisations increasingly prize the value of finance transformation experience for finance leadership, leaders in the area continue to see some difficulties in making the transition, according to the report entitled Finance Transformation Roles: Pathways to CFO, co-authored by Deborah Kops, founder and managing principal of Sourcing Change, and Jamie Lyon, Head of Corporate Sector for ACCA.

The report, which considers whether finance shared service and transformation roles are valuable in the career path to becoming a CFO and which has drawn on the insights of executives from some of the world’s leading enterprises such as Deloitte, Pepsi, and Accenture, provides honest advice for those who may be considering a finance transformation career move.

It identifies a number of factors impacting the value of time spent in a service delivery or transformation role, which include: the maturity of the shared service operations; the compatibility of the role with the skills historically viewed as most valuable in the CFO role; the level of sponsorship from business leaders that shared services has in the enterprise; the prevailing corporate culture, and the timing of the move made.

But it also stresses the beneficial skills gained such as change management and operational leadership that can be valuable for the top finance job.

Jamie Lyon said:

“In a rapidly evolving business environment, CFOs today need to be able to bring real strength in areas such as transformational leadership and change, the ability to run finance operations efficiently and understand the value and use of technology. Senior finance transformation roles provide opportunities to acquire some of these very valuable skills but the report suggests, as always, that career moves here need to be planned carefully if the ultimate ambition is to be CFO”.

As shared services models continue to evolve, and with growing interest in global business service initiatives, some see emerging career opportunities outside of the finance function, and expect transformation leaders to be able to pursue broader based executive roles. As Deborah Kops says

“The CFO role is not necessarily the end-state for many finance transformation leaders. More and more, success in this role unlocks career paths to COO or business unit leads.”

The full report is available here: