CFOs Need to Hone Their AI Skills

A new study says more new job ads call for “AI skills.”

Chief financial officers who don’t engage in artificial intelligence upskilling are taking a big career risk – a risk that’s rising every day.

According to a recent Datarails report, 23% of U.S. chief financial officer job listings in April called for artificial intelligence skills. That figure is up from 20% at the beginning of 2024, the report noted. It’s also a number that should keep rising as companies pour huge sums of cash into AI. CFOs who do take on more artificial training stand to benefit.

“As the finance landscape continues to shift at an unprecedented pace, those who adapt and embrace these changes will be best positioned to advance their careers and drive strategic growth,” Datarails CEO Didi Gurfinkel said.

It’s not only CFOs, either.

“In second place, FP&A roles saw a 9% rise in mentions of AI in this period (25% of all FP&A roles). Accountants saw a 4% rise in this period (with AI mentioned in 17% of all accountant roles by April 2024), and controllers (only a 1% increase, and 15% of all controller jobs),” Datarails noted.

The study, which tracked U.S. job openings in the CFO’s office in January against 1,000 listings in April, listed several specific AI knowledge traits companies wanted corporate finance executives to possess. Take these positions, for example.

— House of Sillage required a CFO “adept at leveraging technology and AI to drive growth and efficiency, with experience in firm acquisitions and predictive analytics.”

— A listing for a New York-based C-Startup series is seeking a CFO “passionate about harnessing the power of AI to solve complex challenges.”

— A post for Division CFO at Crossover requires “using your financial systems expertise to simplify complex tasks and infuse AI-driven insights into day-to-day operations”.

— FD Capital requires familiarity with “Web3 and AI technologies.”

CFOs Are Looking to Upskill

To their credit, chief financial officers are willing to hit the books and dig into AI usage and management strategies.

A separate study from digital payments provider Billtrust shows that while CFOs admit a lack of credentialed knowledge about artificial intelligence, they’re willing to take a lead role in its strategic development at their companies – if they can catch up, education-wise.

According to the study, only 49% of CFOs feel “very knowledgeable” about generative AI’s capabilities, underscoring an urgent need for enhanced education. Additionally, 34% believe “it will take the next generation of finance leaders” to fully scale the implementation of generative AI in finance.

“Despite this knowledge gap, CFOs are pushing forward and beginning to realize tangible benefits from generative AI,” Billtrust reported. “The report found organizations are seeing average efficiency gains of 32% in areas where they have applied the technology. Additionally, 61% of CFOs stated generative AI has improved the quality of their financial reporting and decision intelligence.”

The report also noted that 77% of CFOs plan to increase investment in generative AI technologies for financial operations within the next year to drive innovation. Data privacy, system integration, and workforce training are the biggest challenges “in maximizing generative AI’s potential within finance teams,” Billtrust noted.

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