Over the past fifty years, the role of the chief financial officer has evolved from that of an accountant to that of strategist and business partner. This past decade has seen important research conducted into the evolving role of the CFO by organisations in the United States of America, Canada, Australia, South Africa,The Arab World and New Zealand, as well by the International Federation of Accountants. By 2007, the issue of whether the role of the CFO in South Africa had evolved (and, if so, how) had not yet been researched by the accounting profession. In late 2007, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants embarked on such a research project entitled "The CFO of the future". This paper is a process report for phase 1 of the research. The purpose of this process report is fourfold. Firstly, it provides the background to the research project. Secondly, the paper reflects on other important studies conducted into the changing role of the CFO. The paper then presents a new model of the different roles that a CFO could play in corporate South Africa so as to categorise the focus areas that CFOs could address now and in the future. Lastly, the paper explains how the model was used to prepare a questionnaire sent to CFOs of the Top 40 companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Limited based on market capitalisation. This questionnaire was sent on behalf on the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants as a research tool used to elicit the views of business leaders at the top of the corporate ladder. The process followed and response rate achieved are also reflected upon.


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