The role, function, competencies and opportunities for chief financial officers (CFOs) and senior accounting professionals are changing rapidly in Mainland China. That’s the finding of a new report jointly published by the School of Accounting at the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE), a leading accounting and financial university in Mainland China and CPA Australia, one of the world’s largest professional accounting organisations.
Through on-site visits and one-on-one interviews, the research gathered insights on the development of accounting professionals from frontline finance business units across different organisations and industries in Mainland China.
The report reveals that Mainland Chinese CFOs and their finance teams are gradually expanding from their traditional accounting and finance roles to becoming strategic advisors, business partners, and risk management and value chain contributors. This trend is likely to continue as more businesses are expected to incorporate these new roles into their finance function.
Reflecting these changes in the finance function, the report identifies that in-demand skills for CFOs and senior accounting professionals in Mainland China are also changing. Interviewees believe that a data-driven mindset, data analysis and modelling capabilities, team empowerment and leadership capabilities are some of the most sought-after skills. Further, interviewees identified a growing trend of non-financial or non-accounting talent becoming CFOs in Mainland China.
The report believes that the drivers of these trends include external factors such as government policies encouraging innovation and technology adoption, digital transformation of businesses, public health emergencies and the rise of Generation Z. Internal factors driving these changes include the pursuit of long-term organisational growth and strong demand to digitalise and move up the value chain.
Professor Zhu Kai, Deputy Dean of the School of Accounting at SUFE said, "Colleges and universities play an irreplaceable role in the development of accounting and finance talent. The School of Accounting at SUFE has always been committed to cultivating outstanding talent equipped with the right skills such as creativity, decisiveness, tenacity and leadership.
“This report not only reveals the fruits of collaboration between academia, university students and accounting bodies, but also shows a concerted effort by SUFE to explore new ways of educating the next generation of accounting and finance professionals. We hope more businesses and accounting bodies can learn from the findings of this report and help prepare accounting and finance talent for the future.”
Ms Frances Gong, CPA Australia’s East and Central China Regional Manager said, "As a world-leading professional accounting body that has deep roots in Mainland China, CPA Australia has always been committed to assisting the development of high-quality professional accounting talent with a global vision. Undoubtedly, such talent will contribute to sustainable economic growth in Mainland China.
"2022 marks CPA Australia’s 20th anniversary in Mainland China. To celebrate this milestone, I am very happy to have collaborated with one of our key local partners, SUFE, and share the results of this significant research.
"We believe this thought leadership work will help the emerging generation of Mainland Chinese financial and accounting talent identify the skills and knowledge they need to develop to become tomorrow’s CFOs.”
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