CAO rising

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

Dean Bell

Dean Bell

Transaction Services Service Line Leader , KPMG US

+1 212-872-5527

Deon Minnaar

Deon Minnaar

Partner, Internal Audit & Enterprise Risk, 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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