The Superstar CFO

CFO Research Services recently published a report called “The Superstar CFO: Optimizing an increasingly complex role” based on a research survey of 350+ senior finance executives from a broad cross-section of company segments. The goal of the survey was to identify the attributes of highly successful CFOs; not just what they do but also what they should spend more and less time on.

As most of you probably know, I think that CFOs should stop thinking of themselves as just finance executives and instead recognize that they are charged with the overall performance of an organization. I’ve often joked that we should rename the position Chief Performance Officer. This research seems to support this view as well.

When asked “In your opinion, should you or your company’s CFO spend more, the same amount, or less time and attention on the following enterprise management activities in the next two years?” more than 60% of the finance execs replied that they should spend more time on Strategy Management; the largest response rate from the 11 activities.  Click to see details: How should CFOs spend their time?

Even more telling were some of the responses to the open-ended questions. When asked the characteristics of Superstar CFO, the CFO of a $5B financial services firm replied, “Advisor – business partnering with the CEO on strategy building and execution, process excellence, promoter of compliance and integrity culture together with the CEO. The CFO is a forward looking strategist, not a back looking accountant.” The CFO of a smaller engineering services firm offered up that he wanted to “force internal discussions to focus more on strategy than on tactics… to get beyond the reporter of financial metrics… and to keep [our] eyes externally focused.”

People have been talking about the transformation of the financial function for many years. Reality is finally starting to catch up.

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