There is a world of difference between the tactical and strategic CFO. It was clear in 2015 and the divide will only grow in 2016. We know the aim is to manage a team, their capabilities and the reporting they produce all while leaving time and resources to look further ahead, but that's easier said than done.
Proformative recently discussed this topic during a webinar with insights from numerous seasoned CFOs. They used the "CFO trust pyramid" (FEI Canada) to put the outputs of a trusted advisor in context.
A CFO can't provide all the elements of "leadership" or even 'facilitation' without first providing the base of the pyramid, "understanding." While this seems like a simple structure, it clearly highlights how important it is to have strong foundations.
The pyramid demonstrates the variety of ways a CFO can provide value to the organization, to the CEO and to the bottom line but none of it can happen without understanding the state of the business. Reliable reporting, trustworthy knowledge of the business and guaranteed finance capabilities enable strategic CFOs.
These things are underpinned by strong and reliable data and processes. It sounds simple but how can your team perform without absolute certainty in the accuracy of data? How can you deliver quick and consistent reporting every month without standard tried and tested processes?
Blaire Cook and others at Proformative also talk about the importance of a strong team who can be relied on, about gaining personal experience outside of finance in marketing or sales and about having a structured approach to regular reporting. These are the absolute foundations of a CFO's role to let them start to deliver more.
The core strength of all of Aptitude Software's products is the reliability of data and process wherever they are used. We provide a finance data foundation which allows finance teams to deliver the right information without manual adjustments or worries over auditability.
There is a great deal more that we can deliver and a great deal more that a CFO needs to develop to become a trusted advisor, but without a strong foundation in the base of the pyramid, a strong organization cannot be built.