CAO rising

The role of Chief Accounting Officers is evolving, paving the way to lift their careers to new heights.

Dean Bell

Dean Bell

Partner, Advisory, Transaction Services Leader, KPMG US

+1 212-872-5527

Deon Minnaar

Deon Minnaar

Board Advisory Leader, KPMG US

+1 212-872-5634

Kevin Voigt

Kevin Voigt

Partner, National Service Line Leader, Economic & Valuation Services, KPMG US

+1 313-230-3359

Ron Walker

Ron Walker

Finance Transformation Service Network Lead, KPMG US

+1 858-750-7057

For the past few years, implementing new accounting standards has meant a long “to-do” list and a lot of hard work for the Chief Accounting Officer.  But even as the responsibility for compliance continues, the CAO’s inbox keeps getting fuller.  At many companies, other C-suite leaders are increasingly relying on CAOs to contribute to business transformation and strategy.

In a new KPMG report, CAO rising: How the chief accounting officer role is evolving, we discuss the challenges CAOs face, including during the current COVID-19 outbreak, and how this spells a golden opportunity for them to partner with top leadership and help transform the company.  Based on our work with CAO clients as well as insights from a survey of 229 CAOs and their functional equivalents, we look at the changing role of the CAO and also some significant capability gaps they must overcome to thrive in a rapidly shifting business landscape.


CAO rising
How the role of chief accounting officer is evolving

How CAOs see their evolving responsibilities


Evolution of the CAO - the way forward


Governance and compliance

While the current crisis requires CAOs to focus even more diligently on compliance matters, they need to find ways – via automation and process transformation – to allocate resources toward strategic activities.

  • Assess current processes and benchmark against industry peers
  • Identify gaps with industry best practice
  • Identify processes that can be automated
  • Develop a business case for transformation
  • Build a transformation blueprint with a realistic time line
  • Deliver early wins while ensuring proper controls are in place

M&A transactions

Now more than ever, CAOs need to be included earlier in deals to ensure success and even initiate investment ideas by leveraging data and analytics.

  • Start to collaborate with the deal team during pre-diligence
  • Offer insights on finance and accounting impacts
  • Identify finance and accounting synergies
  • Support diligence with advanced analytics to identify value and risk
  • Manage day 1 risk


Leading the transformation of your own function is one thing, but being able to take on a leadership role in the transformation of the entire company can elevate CAOs to the next level.

  • Determine the questions the business struggles with most
  • Establish the vision and goals for transformation; be bold, but realistic
  • Prioritize areas of focus —articulate value and business case for change
  • Align with leadership team—break down silos, in and out of finance
  • Create an agile mechanism for program funding and resource allocation
  • Define the strategic roadmap and an executable plan

Business partners

Understanding the operations of other business units is a must, but CAOs need to effectively market their role as business partner by providing key insights.

  • Define CAO role in enterprise strategy
  • Solicit “voice of the customer” input
  • Identify technology and data solutions to increase speed and effectiveness of insights
  • Articulate expectations for effective partnering; make it real for every partner
  • Manage talent to close gaps in skills, competencies and behaviors
  • Establish mechanism to measure influence, impact, and performance

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