Before I formally introduce the new power couple let me share with some of my observations about them.
As things are these days this couple does not escape attention. They are followed relentlessly on social media and reported in conventional media.
They are not swayed by influencers or opinion writers but rather they determine the way forward and set the pace.
It would be true to say that they have the same objectives and the same values. Individually each has their own experiences and skills but when working together an eloquent synergy develops.
Their philosophy encompasses the ideals of complete openness and collaboration. Each helps the other to succeed and pushes the other to be better.
Notably, they attract and surround themselves with high achievers who reflect and promote their mission and values.
Let me now introduce to you the power couple:
The Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Financial Officer.
The CEO and the CFO relationship has undoubtedly become the greatest coupling in achieving the success of any organisation. So much so that boards and stakeholders alike are compelled to be more attentive and increasingly scientific on matters of competence and cultural alignment when making an appointment for either position.
The understanding and certainly the lived experience of many organisations is that an effective combination of the talent and experiences between the occupants of these roles is a more secure path to prosperity.
Why is this so?
The CFO is probably the only other member of the C-suite who has a complete view of the organisation and because of their financial education and experience can apply a microscope to any part of the organisation.
Consequently, the CFO has become a key strategy player at the C-suite table, a business partner to the CEO, a challenger to the claims and outcomes of business units and a protector of the organisation by providing financial leadership, risk management and accountability.
More Heads of Functions now report into the CFO than ever before including those responsible for IT, cybersecurity, social media, sales, marketing, brand, legal, property, procurement and shared services.
The dimensions of the Chief Financial Officer have evolved to the point that the CFO is now the most natural successor to the CEO.
Good-bye to Archaeology
The new CFO has long said good-bye to acting as the financial historian and archaeologist for the organisation. This shift is reflected in the courses provided by the likes of the CA and CPA which is shaping the new breed of CFOs through extensive strategy and leadership modules in their continuous education programs.
CFOs, as the other half of the power couple, take a different perspective as to how they should contribute to the organisation. Here are some findings from a Forbes Insights and KPMG survey which found that CEOs from high-performing companies want more from their CFOs.
- 49% of CEOs say that big-picture thinking and a strategic approach are the most important attributes for a CFO.
- 75% of CEOs believe that the CFO’s role will increase in importance more than any other C-suite role but
- 33% of CEOs feel their CFOs are not up to the challenge.
- 80% of CEOs say that nothing is more important than talent management but many also believe their CFOs can and should do a better job of managing their teams.
- 63% of CEOs believe that technology will have the greatest effect on the future role of the CFO – a make-or-break test for CFOs.
In a Tech business and especially in one that is scaling up there is so much at stake that the CFO is one of your most significant assets.
Beyond financial management the CFO needs to be seriously clued up about the power of data analysis, cybersecurity, AI and even social media.
Understanding how these things can help to make or break the P&L is one of several critical factors that separates an ordinary CFO from an extraordinary CFO.