A good CFO is constantly trying to improve. Not only will you evaluate what you’re doing right, but also areas of improvement. You’ll always keep a critical eye and adjust when your performance is subpar.
As you’re considering improvements, look towards the best of the best. Check in with CFOs who have gone before and note what they do differently. Here are some things you can work on, but keep in mind that you and your company are unique, so you may have to adapt their advice to meet your needs.
1. They know high-quality talent when they see it.
You know better than anyone that good talent is hard to come by, and when you find it, your company can flourish. It’s far easier to keep an employee than to find someone new.
For some CFOs, retaining high-quality talent is their biggest challenge, and keeping them will require some important changes.
“If your top talent is starting to eye the door, the reasons could range from salary issues to company culture to lack of challenges and opportunities for development,” says Bob Smith of Bridgepoint Consulting, a management consulting firm. “Take the opportunity to look beyond financial incentives and into company culture as well….Creating a culture in which people are valued and engaged will keep them excited about coming to work and helping your company achieve its business objectives.”
2. They get deep into the analytical side of things.
Traditionally, CFOs have spent much of their time handling transactions. They help to manage expenses, make budgets, and other high-level accounting tasks along with managing a team. However, the landscape of executive finance management is changing. More corporations are hiring other individuals to take care of the transactional side of things so that the CFO can take a look at the bigger picture.
“We should only be spending about 10 percent of our efforts and time on transactional and 90 percent of our time on analytics,” says Ash Noah, vice president of CGMA External Relations at the American Institute of CPAs. “…The more time you spend on analytics the more you help the business and enable effective business partnering.”
Noah also said that only about three percent of CFOs spend the majority of their time on analytics while the rest are closer to the 50/50 range. He notes that strong companies are trying to get closer to that 90 percent area, and you should too.
3. They build a strong, talented team.
In January of 2015, the Atlanta CFO Leadership Council held a very successful networking event for CFOs, including a forum with a panel of highly respected individuals in the industry. One of the most memorable moments from this event is when Sean Barry, the CEO of Bridgevine Inc. told the audience, “Hire smarter people than yourself.”
Barry went on to discuss how everyone has talents and experience, and even though you’re in charge, you can’t possibly know everything. He encouraged the panel to recognize what they don’t know and surround themselves with people who can fill the knowledge and talent gaps.
4. They know their objectives and how to get their team there.
Don’t be a leader with high expectations but no clear objectives.
Sodexo VP Global Finance Services, Florence Rocle, told MichaelPage: “It is very important for the CFO to define strategy and needs clearly. If you define too many objectives, or the strategy is vague, you can go in so many different directions and end up doing nothing.”
Achieving this goes back to looking at the big picture and working with your top talent. Using tools, training, and other resources is also essential. Become familiar with the latest technologies on the market. This is especially important as more Millennials join your workforce. They’ll be able to work with your goals more efficiently if you’re communicating to them with digital tools and resources.
A CFO should constantly be seeking ways to improve and hone their skills. You have what it takes to be incredible as long, as you’re willing to adjust and adapt to be the leader your team needs.
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