Once known as elite accountants, today’s chief financial officers know numbers aren’t enough. For their organizations to succeed, CFOs must do far more than deliver on-time and accurate financial reporting. As their roles have expanded, they are corporate leaders in their own right, charting a course toward the future.

“The old-school skills of accounting and compliance won’t cut it in the modern world. A CFO needs to be a well-rounded business leader, which encompasses technological mastery, strategic thinking and team-building,” says Jack McCullough, founder and president of CFO Leadership Council near Boston.

Mark Thresher, executive vice president and CFO at Nationwide, agrees. “It’s about much more than financial statement. The CFO has to be a key adviser to the CEO and the board about the business in general. You need an understanding of how decisions are made about buying and selling, the products (services) we offer, where we are headed and why.”

And when recruiting a CFO, here's some essential skills/traits:

1. Strategic thinking

Deloitte addresses the issue in a series of articles aimed at executives, saying It’s imperative that CFOs ask the right questions about where the company is currently positioned; what prevents or could prevent it from achieving its potential; and then framing strategies accordingly.

2. Risk and resilience

Risk comes in many shapes and sizes, from an organization’s investment portfolio to its use of third-party vendors. 

Today’s CFOs need a thorough grounding in business and predictive analytics, as well as training in IT and human resources, Renaud says.

 Risk is a framework for many decisions, such as how much capital to put behind its businesses and how to invest its assets, he says.

3. ‘Walking the floor’ and beyond

CFOs must understand operations and strategy from all perspectives. To be of most value, they should work with every functional group in the business, including sales, marketing, operations and production, Martyn says.

4. Team-building and EQ

A CFO should be a strong leader, coach and mentor, and have the ability to listen, Martyn says. “EQ (emotional intelligence) is a real plus, and you can’t always teach that. It’s an ability to interact with people so they trust and confide in you. The better ones have an innate ability to do that, much like a doctor’s bedside manner.”

5. Time out (really?)

6. Integrity

“CFOS are the ethical leaders of their organizations, not only in terms of their own behavior but in terms of creating a culture where ethics count,” McCullough says. “As CFO, you set the example for the entire organization.”

Thresher says, “My role is to protect the honesty and integrity of the company.”

Laurie Allen is a freelance writer for Columbus CEO.