The financial manager plays a dynamic role in a modern company's development. This has not always been the case. Until around the first haif of the 1900s financial managers primarily raised funds and managed their firms' cash positions - and that was pretty much it. In the 1950s, the increasing acceptance of present value concepts encouraged financial managers to expand their responsibilities and to become concerned with the selection of capital investment projects.
Today, external factors have an increasing impact on the financial manager. Heightened corporate competition, technological change, volatility in inflation and interest rates, worldwide economic uncertainty, fluctuating exchange rates, tax law changes, environmental issues, and ethical concerns over certain financial dealings must be dealt with almost daily. As a result, finance is required to play an ever more vital strategic role within the corporation.
The financial manager has emerged as a team player in the overall effort of a company to create value. The "old ways of doing things" simply are not good enough in a world where old ways quickly become obsolete. Thus today's financial manager must have the flexibility to adapt to the changing external environment if his or her firm is to survive.
The successful financial manager of tomorrow will need to supplement the traditional metrics of performance with new methods that encourage a greater role for uncertainty and multiple assumptions. These new methods will seek to value the flexibility inherent in initiatives - that is, the way in which taking one step offers you the option to stop or continue down one or more paths. In short, a correct decision may involve doing something today that in itself has small value, but gives you the option to do something of greater value in the future.
If you become a financial manager, your ability to adapt to change, raise funds, invest in assets, and manage wisely will affect the success of your firm and, ultimately, the overall economy as well. To the extent that funds are misallocated, the growth of the economy will be slowed. When economic wants are unfulfilled, this misallocation of funds may work to the detriment of society. In an economy, efficient allocation of resources is vital to optimal grornth in that economy; it is also vital to ensuring that individuals obtain satisfaction of their highest levels of personal wants. Thus, through efficiently acquiring, financing, and managing assets, the financial manager contributes to the firm and to the vitality and growth of the economy as a whole.