The chief financial officer or CFO is a corporate officer primarily responsible for financial planning, record keeping, risk management as well as shareholder or owner communications. The CFO typically reports to the CEO, owner or the Board of Directors and may additionally sit on the board. The CFO supervises the entire finance function of the company and is generally the financial spokesperson for the company. Many CFOs have expanded financial qualifications such as a Masters of Business Administration, Master of Science or come from an accounting background like a Certified Public Accountant.
Recently the CFO role has greatly broadened in scope. For leading CFOs, this goes beyond being an “information provider” or “aggregator presenter.” Their commercial understanding and analytical skills mean that this proactive, yet supporting, role is a vital part of understanding how different decisions will lead to certain outcomes. The CFO is ideally placed to play a central role in strategy formulation and leadership of the company.
The CFO’s contribution is broad — from developing to enabling to executing strategy. We believe these six segments represent the full breadth of the CFO’s responsibility.
- Ensuring business decisions are financially grounded
- Providing insight and analysis to support the CEO, owner, and other Senior Managers
- Leading key initiatives in finance that support overall strategic goals
- Funding, enabling and executing strategy
- Developing and defining the overall strategy and goals
- Representation to external shareholders (banks, insurance, bond holders, etc.)
While, most small to mid-sized companies can seldom justify hiring a full-time CFO, this doesn’t mean they don’t have growth goals, or issues, or other needs that require this level of executive. It’s just they don’t need it day after day, year after year. This is exactly why many of these companies are reaching out to part-time or outsourced CFOs. These CFOs are not only cost effective but provide immediate outside perspective and will deliver vital input and insight to strategic decisions.
If you wish to learn more about the difference between a Controller and a CFO read this very useful article!
Reach out and let’s talk more about this topic.