PJ: Great thinking. Please check out my recent blog post along similar lines: PJ's Blog: Part 2
DaveM: Won't this kind of thinking result in the displacement of large numbers of software professionals who make their living trying to keep up with the demands of updating and feeding their local ERP systems? (LOL)
Clare: Teffific piece! I would love to hear more from the Unknown CFO...how are his/her interactions with other corporate stakeholders changing (or not). How is the strategic CFO engaging with others these days vs. the non-strategic CFO? Thank you for the humor...but also for the "extreme" perspective that invokes deeper reflection--even as we chuckle.
SteveO: I think Dunder Mifflin has this top ten CFO manifesto posted at corp HQ. Or maybe that was in The Office @ Scranton!
KenN: It's great to talk about being a strategic CFO, but reality hits the wall hard when your boss/es require a non-strategic focus (regardless of what they said in the interviews) and limit your efforts to build the appropriate team/technology. What’s it like living above the fray?
Recently, Corefino asked the Chief Accounting Officer (CAO/CFO) of a $900M U.S. company to write a series of unattributed columns about her experiences with accounting industry software solutions, on-premise technology, accounting staffing needs, ongoing reporting, etc. This column is the first in a series of observations with our "Unknown CFO" ... who is VERY strategic.
UNKNOWN CFO: The publication FinancialWeek followed the path of many companies in 2009 and went belly up, but one of its most intriguing columns was well worth the read each week – and that was the CFO Churn-o-Meter. This informative little graphical tool measured the number of CFO's fired each week in a handy little green-yellow-red meter. In slow weeks where only a few dozen were canned, the chart showed green (though probably it didn't feel green to those few dozen). However, in latter months prior to the publication's closure, the meter was consistently in triple digit firings with yellow and red indicators. Not good.
So what can short-circuit a CFO's career and how can he/she add more strategic value to a company – or not? I interviewed a colleague of mine at a financial executive gathering, who brings a perspective to the role of CAO/CFO that I think you will find decidedly NON-Strategic. The topics are posed in CAPS. What are your views?
AN INTERVIEW WITH A NON-STRATEGIC CFO
(AND WHY HE/SHE WON'T LIKELY SEE 2010)
1. CAREER: My career is safe, safe, safe because I am conservative and that is what a CFO should be. My aspirations have a foundation and walls and you may think that sounds siloed but it's not.
2. REPORTS: Sometimes I ask for a report and it is easy for the team to complete, sometimes they look at me like I have two heads. I wish I clearly understood what we can get from our reporting system.
3. STAFF COMPETENCE: Under my direct reports are a bunch of people who, I imagine, do their jobs well.
4. WORK/LIFE BALANCE: Work is all there is to life
5. COST CUTTING: Cut SG&A costs anyway possible. It is what the CEO asked me to investigate, and I will deliver, ruthlessly, if you don't mind.
6. MORE COST CUTTING: I think that eliminating employee sponsored perks like coffee creamers evidence to the CEO my commitment to cost containment.
7. JOB SECURITY: If you don't come to work on Saturday, don't bother to come in on Sunday.
8. STRATEGIC CONTRIBUTION: I tend to have little review time for financial analysis since I am mired in the execution of it myself.
9. ONGOING ANALYSIS: Balance sheet reconciliations only need to be performed at year end. Likewise, LCMs, impairment, pension analysis, tax provisions, debt FMV, option accounting and provision analysis…..I don't try want to stress out my staff by asking them to keep up with these things~
10. RESPONSIBILITIES/SUPPORT TOOLS: I am responsible for treasury, financial reporting, tax, budgets, forecasts, strategic plans, payroll, procurement, accounting services and IT. I do the best I can, but the demands are endless, and our system is from the early 90's. What do you WANT from me??
This column is sponsored by Corefino, the CFOs Strategic Accelerator ™. We offer a completely outsourced three part People-Place-Platform solution for routine accounting, based on SaaS technology and off-premise accounting staffs. By re-channeling financial department dollars to more strategic analysis purposes, CFO's (and controllers) gain the time and savings to do more by spending less. They have the time to be more strategic and provide more value to their organizations.
For more information on Corefino, download our PDF corporate overview brochure.