CFOs Must Build a Solid Foundation First

Lately I have read a myriad of articles and blogs regarding the CFO role that..

  1. Claim the role is going the way of the dinosaur.
  2. Claim a CFO who doesn’t have a digital transformation plan being implemented yesterday is about to have the earth fall from under their feet.
  3. Claim If you aren’t a near clone of Winston Churchill or Martin Luther King your chance of getting a CFO role are slim to none.

Certainly, the CFO role is changing but none of these claims are true for senior finance leaders at businesses today.

Why is that?

  1. The fundamental role we play at our companies is still Leading the Accounting, Finance and Treasury functions for our businesses. Many senior financial officers have other important responsibilities – sometimes human resources, sometimes information technology, sometimes legal, etc. - piled on top of the Four Pillars. A CFO’s success depends on mastering the Four Pillars. There are no new species waiting to take over these critical corporate functions.

  2. It’s important we learn how to use technology wisely; for decision support, to speed up and make our processes more effective and to increase revenue while reducing costs. These technology opportunities aren’t unique to our experience or mystical in nature – we have been using technology to improve our activities for the past 500 years. I don’t mean to yawn, this is important stuff, but there is a good chance you and your executive team are taking many of the right steps already.

  3. Having a big picture view and good communication skills go a long way to getting your Four Pillars of Success properly erected and functioning. You don’t need an “I Have Dream” or a “Never Was so Much Owed by so Many to so Few” speech in your resume to be a successful senior finance officer. But you must understand how to lead each of the CFO Pillars to make your team value creators for your business.

Through all the changes on the horizon we must not forget the fundamentals of the CFO’s role. Without these foundational activities cemented in our business the CFO will not be capable of garnering the support of the Board or the CEO to take advantage of new technologies – they will either escape the grasp of our companies or be managed outside our arena.


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