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The Four Faces of the CFO

Today’s CFOs are under more pressure than ever. Accounting scandals, financial restatements and increased investor scrutiny have forced them into the spotlight. At the same time, they face never-ending pressure to cut costs, grow revenue, ensure controls, and are even put at personal risk for the company’s mistakes. Given these pressures, it’s no wonder that CFO turnover is on the rise and the role is under greater scrutiny, internally and externally. 

The reason the CFO’s job is so fraught with challenge is because it’s really four jobs in one. We call these distinct roles the “four faces” of the CFO. The first role is that of steward, preserving the assets of the organization by minimizing risk and getting the books right. The second is operator, conducting basic finance operations efficiently and effectively. Third is strategist, influencing the company’s overall direction. And fourth is the catalyst, instilling a financial mindset to execution and risk-taking throughout the business. For insight into the challenges CFOs encounter in each of their roles, click on the appropriate segment of the Four Faces of the CFO Framework on the left. 

To better balance all these roles, CFOs now have a new resource: Breathing lessons for CFOs: How CFOs can thrive under pressure. Breathing lessons provides ideas on how CFOs can more effectively tackle the complex nature of their jobs. More than ever, CFOs must step back, take a deep breath and determine which investments and activities are truly worthwhile.