What do CEOs want from their CFOs?

Which is your favourite double act? Laurel and Hardy, Morecambe and Wise, Ant and Dec. Or how about French and Saunders, Thelma and Louise, Key and Peele?

When it comes to the greatest double acts of our time the CEO and CFO are right up there.

As the visibility of the finance chief continues to increase – the partnership between the CEO and CFO has become the critical relationship in the executive team.

But what do they need and how can they best help each other?

Whether your company is a start-up, private equity backed, family-owned or a charity, there are certain common themes that appear. Let’s look at some of them.

Skill: Communicator/Presenter

Today’s CFO is more than just a numbers person – he/she needs to be able to support and communicate the CEO’s vision. That is why they will have the silky presentation skills of a great communicator.

A good communicator will be able to articulate values and vision as well as being able to present complex data to the board. Many companies are in constant fund-raising mode so the CFO needs to be well versed in presenting persuasively and with passion. The CEO needs to know he/she can hand over that job whenever necessary and that the CFO will do it well.

Skill: Strategic thinker

The CFO needs to move beyond bean counter to embrace the vision and the mission of the company. In well-established or family run companies the CFO  can also play a useful role in challenging traditional thinking by offering a fresh perspective and shaking things up.

Skill: Future facing

The CEO doesn’t want to hear about what happened in the past – he/she wants to know what is going to happen in the future.

It is the CFOs job to bring insight beyond the numbers by interpreting the data and not just presenting it. Data is of most use when it is recruited to tell a story, help form an opinion and suggest an action.

Skill: Integrity and truth telling

The CFO is required to be transparent and ethical – keeping the company compliant and the CEO out of jail. The CFO should always tell the truth to the CEO and the board.

Skill: Co-pilot

The list of attributes required by the CFO gets longer by the day but there is no question that his/her role is to support the work of the CEO. Sounding board, idea generator, challenger of assumptions – all of these add up to being a co-pilot to the leader. And there is one more vital skill to add, Chief Innovator – which is where we come to the CFO’s role in introducing technology…

Skill: Technology Selector

With expectations on CFOs so high it is no surprise that they are often the drivers behind new technology projects. The CFO would be crazy not to avail themselves of this valuable helping hand. With technology now automating so many predictable and boring financial processes, offering faster period end closing, compliance tools, accuracy and reporting, it is no wonder the CFO is getting behind digital investment.

The benefits include;

  • Financial Accuracy
  • Faster time to close books
  • Keeping CEO of jail with built in compliance features
  • Real time data
  • Comprehensive reporting
  • Predictive Analytics – see into the future

It’s no longer enough to be great at finance and accounting to be a top CFO. You need to be a strategic thinker, great communicator, analyst, co-pilot, truth teller and technology master.

If you could use some help choosing technology then don’t hesitate to find out more about what’s out there.

Sign up for one of our regular software selection masterclasses – free and online – or talk to one of our experts at [email protected] Tel 01628 876723 or 07923 495647

Read more on how cloud technology is transforming finance here.