The report, The DNA of a finance director, showed FDs are spending less time on the figures and more acting as "a key business partner".
It found FDs increasingly want to get involved with their organisation's operational activities and not just focus on the numbers.
The survey of 800 UK FDs found that commercial awareness and people management were the two most sought-after skills in FDs, reflecting the more operational nature of the role.
Karen Young, director of Hays senior finance recruiter, said: "Finance directors are increasingly at the centre of many organisations, working hand in hand with all departments and helping set the strategy and overall business direction."
The study showed a third (37%) of respondents believe the role of the FD will have an increased focus on returns in IT and transformation projects over the next five years.
It also found more than half of UK FDs have their eyes set on climbing the career ladder, as 29% cited their ultimate career goal as group CFO in a larger organisation, with 31% of men are aiming for the top, compared to only 26% of women. An ambitious 12% of FDs want the top job of CEO.
Young said: "Our report clearly shows that UK FDs are ambitious and eager to climb the career ladder with the ultimate career goal of a bigger finance role in a larger organisation.
"How they reach this goal varies but it's clear that international experience can be of considerable benefit to career progression.
"Understanding different cultures, laws and accounting practices, particularly in emerging markets, can be invaluable when trying to reach their career ambitions."