The role of an effective CFO has been grossly undervalued – for many years. And all too often when you, as a business, becomes ready for growth, the realisation is far too late and it dawns on you that either you’ve made the wrong choice of CFO, or, your desperation to appoint one overshadows your strategic incentive to have one in the first place – and you make a wrong decision merely because you need to tick a box.

We’ve seen it happen. Too many times.

Your CFO plays one of the most crucial roles in your business. As a strategic business partner on your leadership team, your CFO is there to not only give you the honest, crucial truth that you need to lead your company effectively, they provide the critical information your governing board, investors and key stakeholders require – to keep your entire company compliant.

Deloitte has published a great article about the 4 Faces of the CFO. In it, they speak about the CFO as being:

  • A Steward : “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.”
  • An Operator: “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.”
  • A Strategist: “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.”
  • A Catalyst: “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.”

The entire role of the finance function is changing. They are not merely bookkeepers and inventory holders, but they are becoming a stronger, more supportive, more strategic part of a business – one that actively contributes to the overall growth of an organisation. As a result, where once they were merely seen as a function that ticks boxes and pays the bills, they are quickly understanding much more about business than just the financial aspects, and disruptive technology is equipping financial teams to be at the forefront of company decisions and growth. All the more reason why they need a leader who’s vision supports that of the organisation, and who is taking up their rightful place as a critical face of the organisation.

Any business who is considering pursuing an IPO will know this better than anything. In recent blog posts, we’ve been discussing the course of the IPO as a route towards business growth. TechCrunch put it perfectly: “A good CFO doesn’t just keep the “score”; he or she also puts points on the board given their vantage point on the business. The CFO is also critical because over time he or she, along with the CEO, becomes the face of the company to investors. It’s expected that the CEO and CFO present the company during the road show, but once a company is public, CFOs spend as much or more time with investors and analysts than the CEO — particularly around earnings calls.”

Whether you’re looking for a permanent placement, or an interim solution to sourcing a CFO – we’ve been offering this service for years and have built up a strong reputation for successful governance and corporate leadership – particularly within high-growth businesses.  If you’d like to know more about what we do, get in touch today.