Role of the CFO coming out of the recession
Deloitte Belgian CFO Survey Q3-2010
The CFO’s job is complicated because it consists of four jobs. We call these distinct roles the “four faces” of the CFO. The first role is steward, protecting and preserving the assets of the organization by minimizing risk and getting the books right. Second is operator, conducting basic finance operations efficiently and effectively. Third is strategist, influencing the company’s overall direction. And fourth is catalyst, instilling a financial mindset to execution and risk-taking throughout the business.
Currently, CFOs spent on average over 55% of their time on their steward and operator roles. Going forward, CFOs prefer to dedicate more time to the strategist and catalyst roles. The shift from the operational focus towards the strategic focus is a sign that the CFO reorients focus to the external market, following actions taken last year to optimize internal controls and core finance operations.
In addition to these four finance-related roles, many CFOs are faced with a variety of responsibilities that have little or nothing to do with finance, such as human resources (30%) and information technology (40%). CFOs seem to not have enough time or resources to meet all of these demands.
The truest measure of CFO clout isn’t span-of-control, it’s sphere of influence. Building on strong relationships with their CEOs, CFOs work hard to instill a deep focus on value creation throughout their organizations. CFOs often consult ouside of their own department: for almost all of the CFOs the CEO acts as an important sounding board, but also other executives in the firm are frequently consulted. To provide the outside perspective, external advisors (about 40%) and CFO peers (about 30%) are used to check ideas and shape opinions.
Although the operational and steward role still take up most of the CFOs time, their main focus lays not on the typical steward tasks such as transaction processing, regulation, control and compliance issues. Main attention current goes to the overall organization of the finance function, performance and decision support and strategy and execution.
From a finance organisation point of view capital management, as well as planning and forcasting processes are mainly centralized for the vaste majority of surveyed organisations. Almost half of the surveyd companies have centralized main processes of the order to cash, procure to pay and record to report cycles.