Most individuals holding the top financial position in a company have these general responsibilities and duties included in their job description:
Overall financial responsibility of the organization with specific responsibility for accounting, treasury, financial planning and analysis, financial risk, financial controls, and financial reporting. An integral part of the performance of these duties is accuracy, relevance, and timeliness of information.
However, these responsibilities are merely “table stakes” for the exceptional CFO. Finance chiefs are members of a leadership team who together are responsible to successfully address a broad range of business imperatives.
To address these issues, the CFO must first be a business leader driven to serve the company’s customers in the context of obeying the law, meeting shareholder requirements for enterprise value, and social responsibilities. They know that sales and marketing, manufacturing, and the other functional specialties, including their own, are merely one way to serve these vital and sometimes competing demands. A strategic CFO thinks and acts from a total corporate perspective… just like a successful CEO.
The difference between and a strategic CFO and a traditional one is indicated in the following examples:
- A traditional CFO will first calculate the cost of opening an office in China; a strategic CFO will first coalesce with other leadership members to determine if a China office should be considered along with other available options.
- A traditional CFO denies the credit application of a new customer; a strategic CFO devises creative terms that enable the sale with minimum risk to the business.
- A traditional CFO will point out that a Product Development project is over budget; a strategic CFO will advise whether to close the project down or invest more heavily.
A traditional CFO publishes a 25-page book of data and graphs to the leadership team each month; a strategic CFO presents a brief overview of the results and the best outlook for the future with insights and recommendations the leadership team can rely on to stay on course with its mission.
A strategic CFO is a business leader with a financial background.
John Ball is a co-founder and the Managing Partner of SeatonHill Partners, LLC. SeatonHill provides mid-market companies with affordable financial executive leadership from their offices in Fort Worth and Dallas. For more information, visit www.SeatonHill.com