The Secret Weapon for CFOs is the Intangible

One of the discussions by the recruiter panel at the CFO Rising conference was around the intangibles of being a Chief Financial Officer. Intangibles … as in presence. It won’t matter how great your finance acumen, skill sets, and deliverables are if you can’t, or don’t, communicate it compellingly. You won’t be able to sell it. If you don’t believe your greatness, no one else will buy it either. 

In addition to the solid finance skill set, operational contributions, and perhaps even the CPA and MBA designations, strategic CFOs who desire a seat at the executive table must bring personal presence, charisma, and the ability to inspire confidence. This is NOT an extrovert / introvert issue. It IS about having confidence combined with stellar communication skills. 

If you’ve been the catalyst that has led transformative initiatives, how are you talking about the problems you solved along the way?

If you’ve been a game changer that has led to growth, what’s the behind-the-scenes story that looks at the challenges and issues you waded through to deliver the growth?

If candidates can’t articulate these compelling stories with confidence, the stories will fall flat. 

Digging deep to uncover a compelling value proposition is hard work. However, as in most things, the hard work inspires confidence and confidence leads to self-belief. When you believe in yourself and your ability to do great things based on a solid record of contribution, you can sell it and companies will buy it. 

CFOs typically call me for the tangible … a resume. What they get is the intangible … a clear, compelling, and authentic value proposition that they can say, believe, and sell.

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4 thoughts on “The Secret Weapon for CFOs is the Intangible”

  1. Cindy… Right on point!
    Marshall Goldsmith wrote a great book – What Got You’re Here Won’t Get You There. Great title and book. CFO’s have risen through organizations for a variety of reasons and the good ones clearly because of results but none of this guarantees to “Get Us There”.
    As you note, a key for CFOs is to know how to articulate their UVP (unique value proposition). Their UVP communicates why their background is unique and compelling, what they are like to work with, what value they can bring to a new organization – all of which should provide a convincing reason for an employer to covet that candidate. Ironically, this is something that is second nature for sales people but sometimes takes a back seat for us finance folks.

  2. Thanks for reading and commenting, Chris. I’m definitely going to take a look at the book you mentioned.
    Love your last sentence because it is what I find with many of my clients. The ones who are a bit of an exception to that rule have a strong operational perspective. They seem to be more “people-oriented people” versus the stereotypical “bean counter,” which helps them tremendously with marketing themselves.

  3. Hi cindy,
    Great perspective to bring the CFO in direct relation to the “intangible”. Honestly, I was expecting something else, but indeed, if a CFO understands the value of Human Capital and enables the measurement (in hard monetary currency) of intangibles related to Human Capital – starting with themselves – then the CFO is dearing to get hisher feet with for the benefit of finding out more about Intellectual Capital and how it can contribute to a companies innovative growth and future.
    I look forward to read more of this from the CFO Coach and hope lots of CFOs are reading along.
    Any CFO, who wants to know more how the 4 elements of Intellectual Capital can contribute to the sustainable growth of their company, feel free to contact me (
    Best regards,
    Joris Claeys
    VP Global Operations
    AREOPA – Provoking Innovative Intelligence


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