Today, the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) is under greater scrutiny, internally and externally. CFOs face never ending pressure to cut costs, grow revenue, and ensure control. Economic uncertainty, increased regulatory requirements, financial restatements, and increased investor scrutiny have forced them into the spotlight. Given these factors, CFO turnover is on the rise.
The four faces
Today’s CFOs are expected to play four diverse and challenging roles. The two traditional roles are steward, preserving the assets of the organization by minimizing risk and getting the books right, and operator, running a tight finance operation that is efficient and effective. It’s increasingly important for CFOs to be strategists, helping to shape overall strategy and direction, and catalysts, instilling a financial approach and mind set throughout the organization to help other parts of the business perform better.
These varied roles make a CFO’s job more complex than ever.
CFOs work to protect the vital assets of the company, ensure compliance with financial regulations, close the books correctly, and communicate value and risk issues to investors and boards.
CFOs have to operate an efficient and effective finance organization providing a variety of services to the business such as financial planning and analysis, treasury, tax, and other finance operations.
CFOs take a seat at the strategy planning table and help influence the future direction of the company. They are vital in providing financial leadership and aligning business and finance strategy to grow the business. In addition to M&A and capital market financing strategies, they can play an integral role in supporting other long-term investments of the company.
CFOs can stimulate and drive the timely execution of change in the finance function or the enterprise. Using the power of their purse strings, they can selectively drive business improvement initiatives such as improved enterprise cost reduction, procurement, pricing execution, and other process improvements and innovations that add value to the company.