What do CEOs need from CFOs?

Written by EO Executives on Dec 07, 2016

As businesses become more agile and innovative the requirements of many roles are likely to change in 2017 and beyond. With the ever-evolving economy, the uncertainty of Brexit and the new challenges of rising commodity prices and volatility in the FX markets, CEOs need a new type of CFO.

They need a blend of both a FD and CFO who can not only be a commercial leader but can be highly agile and adapt to the modern landscape – it’s a vital partnership. As an overall trend, CEO’s more than ever need their CFO’s to look forward and not backwards - they are their eye and ears in the business.

Reflecting on many conversations with industry leaders in our network, it appears there are several new priorities CFOs will need to embrace for 2017. To help break this down I've outlined the top key traits that are now required of this 'new' type of CFO.

1. Gumption

No one likes to deliver bad news to the CEO but when the success or failure of the company is at stake an effective CFO needs to take the initiative to communicate concerns pragmatically. A successful CFO should have the confidence and ability to deliver adverse (as well as positive) news and provide the business with the key facts and necessary information that will inevitably play a part in making critical business decisions.

2. Cash Management

Cash is king!

It is fundamental that the CFO has visibility and a strong sense of the current cash position of the business on a real-time basis. They must be aware of any signs of financial strength and liquidity to strategically manage and forecast the future cash position through a clever blend of craft and technology.
Bank based agility is key as well as being able to be flexible as business conditions change.

3. Tech Savvy

Why should CFOs understand technology? Well, with many businesses embracing new ways to become innovative it is unsurprising that so many CFOs and their finance teams are expected to drive digitally enabled business models.

Thus, finance teams now need to work actively to expand their knowledge of technology, analytics and business partnering to capture and develop new performance metrics. Consequently, an understanding of technology is fundamental to appreciate the value created by new intangible drivers using the latest cloud-based tools and technologies.

4. Navigating Brexit

Now that Britain has taken the decision to leave the EU, CFOs should be highly prepared for the imminent change. To overcome challenges and capitalise on opportunities that the boardrooms of Britain will be faced with, CFOs and FDs will need to implement strategies that can de-risk the outcome of the decision and even potentially adapt their companies approach to trading with Europe.

It’s an opportunity to shine.

5. Cyber Security

With the growing number, frequency and impact of cyber- attacks in recent years, cyber security is a topic at the forefront of many boardroom agendas. The modern cyber criminal is well funded, highly organised, able to infiltrate a company's system, steal valuable and potentially damaging information. Therefore, in the event of cyber risk CFOs must have the stamina to get to grips with how to best mitigate against this and protect the company's data, as well as reputation.

Communication and stakeholder management skills will be key as the CFO will need to partner with the CIO on joining up the technological and financial considerations of this threat.

Now we've briefly covered some of the key qualities CEOs require in a modern day CFO, I'd be keen to hear your thoughts. So, please feel free to contact me directly at mandy.ogle@eoexdecutives.com or alternatively comment below.

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