The Changing Role of Finance Leadership

May 25, 2017 |

Reflections from a CFO: Alexsandro Broedel Lopes

Alexsandro Broedel Lopes is Group Finance Director at Itaú Unibanco, the 10th largest bank in the world by market value.


Itaú is focused on sustainable performance and integrated reporting

  • A strong focus on supporting wider societal goals while also delivering customer satisfaction is key to Itaú’s success (Itaú has been in existence longer than the Brazilian constitution).
  • Itaú builds trust by promoting healthy relationships with customers and other stakeholders. Driving value for shareholders, employees, clients and society is its basis for sustainable performance. This wider perspective of value creation drives the need for non-financial metrics covering risk and opportunity for both value creation and preservation.
  • Itaú was the first Brazilian financial institution to publish a voluntary integrated report, which shines a spotlight on value creation and the business model. The integrated report now receives more downloads than Itaú’s consolidated annual report (containing regulatory filings and sustainability report).
  • Itaú uses a Finance Strategy Map to guide the finance function’s development and support of the business.
  • The finance function serves as the conscience of the organization, objectively evaluates business strategic choices, and manages any tension or trade-offs across the business.
  • The finance function‘s first responsibility is to provide confidence in the financials as well as the sound financial criteria upon which to base decisions across the business (Itaú has never had to restate its financial statements). This is the foundation to partner with the business to make decisions that generate value and contribute to sustainable performance.
  • Attracting talent into the finance function is a priority. The finance employee profile incorporates technical knowledge of accounting and finance, business knowledge to understand context, and leadership skills. All finance employees must also have ethics, integrity and professionalism as their foundation.
  • CFOs and finance teams require the skills and capability, and personality traits, to challenge the business.
  • CFOs should report to the governing board to help reinforce independence and objectivity.
  • The significant number of financial restatements in public companies in recent years is concerning (11,000 restatements in 13 countries over nine years). Restatements are a reputational challenge for companies, and finance functions destroy value through mis-statements and material weakness.
  • The perception of accountants and the roles they perform in business varies greatly across jurisdictions, and has to be taken into account with the use of the term accountant internationally.
  • The CFO’s role will continue to remain central in any organization, but the future CFO profile will require dealing with a broader range of opportunity and risk, and acquiring a broad skill set; experience in business strategy design and execution, managing up, communication and presentation; and deeper insights into organizations.

The role of the finance function in Itaú

  • Itaú uses a Finance Strategy Map to guide the finance function’s development and support of the business.
  • The finance function serves as the conscience of the organization, objectively evaluates business strategic choices, and manages any tension or trade-offs across the business.
  • The finance function‘s first responsibility is to provide confidence in the financials as well as the sound financial criteria upon which to base decisions across the business (Itaú has never had to restate its financial statements). This is the foundation to partner with the business to make decisions that generate value and contribute to sustainable performance.
  • Attracting talent into the finance function is a priority. The finance employee profile incorporates technical knowledge of accounting and finance, business knowledge to understand context, and leadership skills. All finance employees must also have ethics, integrity and professionalism as their foundation.

The role of finance function and financial leadership

  • CFOs and finance teams require the skills and capability, and personality traits, to challenge the business.
  • CFOs should report to the governing board to help reinforce independence and objectivity.
  • The significant number of financial restatements in public companies in recent years is concerning (11,000 restatements in 13 countries over nine years). Restatements are a reputational challenge for companies, and finance functions destroy value through mis-statements and material weakness.
  • The perception of accountants and the roles they perform in business varies greatly across jurisdictions, and has to be taken into account with the use of the term accountant internationally.
  • The CFO’s role will continue to remain central in any organization, but the future CFO profile will require dealing with a broader range of opportunity and risk, and acquiring a broad skill set; experience in business strategy design and execution, managing up, communication and presentation; and deeper insights into organizations

Taken from the IFAC PAIB Committee report, Developing a Future-Ready Profession


Thank you for your interest in our publications. These valuable works are the product of substantial time, effort and resources, which you acknowledge by accepting the following terms of use. You may not reproduce, store, transmit in any form or by any means, with the exception of non-commercial use (e.g., professional and personal reference and research work), translate, modify or create derivative works or adaptations based on such publications, or any part thereof, without the prior written permission of IFAC.

Our reproduction and translation policies, as well as our online permission request and inquiry system, are accessible on the Permissions Information web page.

For additional information, please read our website Terms of Use. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Agree