The New C-Suite Needs Both Artificial and Emotional Intelligence

Image – @ AI Innovation Times

Global C-suites are anticipating that investments in AI will enhance productivity, with direct implications for the roles and expectations of CFOs.

Jeff Constable, leader of Korn Ferry’s Financial Officers Practice in North America and its global co-leader, highlighted the evolving demands on finance chiefs. “We are definitely seeing a need for CFOs to become more ‘AI forward,'” Constable explained, indicating a shift towards integrating AI in internal processes which are critical to CFO responsibilities. This trend might soon influence how new finance executives are recruited. “I suspect we will see that in the future, but it is early yet,” he added.

Emerging signs of this shift were confirmed by a report from Datarails, a software development company, which analyzed 2,000 job vacancies for U.S. CFOs, senior accountants, controllers, and FP&A roles. From January to April, the report found a 15% increase in the number of CFO job postings at both public and private companies, including divisional CFO roles, requiring “understanding or knowledge of artificial intelligence.” By April, nearly one quarter (23%) of CFO job listings demanded some AI knowledge.

An example cited in the Datarails report involved House of Sillage, a luxury perfume and cosmetics manufacturer, seeking a CFO proficient in leveraging technology and AI to foster growth and efficiency, with experience in firm acquisitions and predictive analytics.

The report also suggests that aspiring CFOs need to brace for technological shifts while emphasizing their uniquely human qualities, such as sophisticated planning skills, which are increasingly valued by companies.

“The future belongs to those CFOs who can seamlessly integrate artificial intelligence with emotional intelligence, forging a new paradigm of finance leadership that is both data-driven and deeply human,” said Jonathan Marciano, director of communications at Datarails.

Further emphasizing the growing importance of AI skills, the 2024 AI Jobs Barometer report by PwC, which analyzed over half a billion job ads from 15 countries, revealed that financial analyst positions requiring AI skills in the U.S. offered wages on average 33% higher than similar jobs lacking AI skills.

Adobe CFO Dan Durn, discussing the role of companies in AI upskilling, underscored the transformative impact of this technology across organizations.

“Nobody goes to college today and gets a degree in generative AI. We’re all kind of learning on the job and picking it up,” Durn said. He stressed that companies driving technological changes have a responsibility to support their employees’ learning and adaptation processes.

Image – @ AI Innovation Times