A Business Leader with a Financial Background
Every company needs a strategic CFO as a member of its leadership team, but many firms don’t recognize that need until a pressing issue arises that their current accounting staff cannot address. For example, an urgent requirement for capital, or the need for information to guide an important business decision along with a credible prediction of the impact of that decision before it’s made.
We at SeatonHill see this phenomenon most often in middle market companies who don’t believe they are big enough to afford a strategic CFO. And, many times, the CEO does not really know what a strategic CFO is.
There is no litmus test as to what it takes to be a strategic CFO, but to parody a famous U. S. Supreme Court observation – "I can’t define what a strategic CFO is, but I know one when I see one."
Most individuals holding the top financial position in a company have these general responsibilities and duties included in their job description:
Overall financial responsibility of the organization with specific responsibility for accounting, treasury, financial planning and analysis, financial risk, financial controls, and financial reporting. An integral part of the performance of these duties is accuracy, relevance, and timeliness of information.
However, these responsibilities are merely "table stakes" for the exceptional CFO. Finance chiefs are members of a leadership team who together are responsible to successfully address a broad range of business imperatives.
To address these issues, the CFO must first be a business leader driven to serve the company’s customers in the context of obeying the law, meeting shareholder requirements for enterprise value, and social responsibilities. They know that sales and marketing, manufacturing, and the other functional specialties, including their own, are merely one way to serve these vital and sometimes competing demands. A strategic CFO thinks and acts from a total corporate perspective…just like a successful CEO.
The difference between and a strategic CFO and a traditional one is indicated in the following examples:
· A traditional CFO will first calculate the cost of opening an office in China; a strategic CFO will first coalesce with other leadership members to determine if a China office should be considered along with other available options.
· A traditional CFO denies the credit application of a new customer; a strategic CFO devises creative terms that enable the sale with minimum risk to the business.
· A traditional CFO will point out that a Product Development project is over budget; a strategic CFO will advise whether to close the project down or invest more heavily.
· A traditional CFO publishes a 25-page book of data and graphs to the leadership team each month; a strategic CFO presents a brief overview of the results and the best outlook for the future with insights and recommendations the leadership team can rely on to stay on course with its mission.
A strategic CFO is a business leader with a financial background.
SeatonHill provides its middle market clients with strategic CFOs who are business leaders with financial backgrounds and battle-tested experience. Affordability derives from our ability to provide our services on a fractional or part-time basis – all that mid-market companies often need.
FOR MORE INFORMATION // visit www.SeatonHill.com or contact: John Ball // Managing Partner // firstname.lastname@example.org // 214.532.3240.
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