Breaking Down the CFO Role

Emerging growth companies considering the need for financial leadership sometimes ask, “What does a CFO do?” It might seem that the president or general manager of the business owns the strategy and process of making money. For financial tasks like paying bills, minding of tax obligations, and general administration - the accounting manager or controller has the details in hand. So why a CFO?

As companies grow and complexity increases, companies are wise to add a true financial leader. A CFO can be the difference between a company “getting by” and truly excelling. For a broad view of what the CFO contributes, the “Four Faces of the CFO” published by Deloitte provides many insights. The graphics and video explanation available on Deloitte’s website are excellent.

To summarize this study in the context of small-to-mid-sized businesses, first recognize that someone in the organization must play each of the roles represented by the “Four Faces” including:

  • Steward – accounting, controls, risk management, compliance
  • Operator – efficient processes, support of business managers
  • Strategist – setting long-term vision, capital formation, M&A
  • Catalyst – instilling discipline, gaining buy-in to strategy, change agent

The effective CFO, including a CFO Partner from the Florida CFO Group, brings the talent and perspective of a strategic CFO. Unlike newly minted CFOs that may be primarily oriented toward stewardship and historical results, a strategic CFO spends significantly more time in the roles of Strategist and Catalyst. These CFOs serve as vital partners of the top management in setting the goals, culture, and strategic objectives that will propel the business forward. They also act as change agents when business growth requires new ways of operating, new products, and improved systems.

Of course, the best CFOs maintain focus on all four perspectives. Major strategic initiatives don’t leave accounting and compliance issues untended. Strategic CFOs inspire support for change while providing resources and guidance to business operations that must efficiently evolve.

We all know that business growth and scaling is not easy. There are many unique tasks, opportunities, and challenges that a business operator must handle. A strategic CFO with a well-balanced focus on all Four Faces can make all the difference.

Ready to excel with a CFO partner? Contact us today.

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