A High-Value CFO is …

Last April when I did the keynote at the Prophix User conference, I said this …

Today, the trend is towards Operational CFOs who hold an MBA and bring a broader education & finance perspective, along with a strong ability to synthesize information. CEOs and Boards will demand their Chief Financial Officers possess broader-based skills as they seek business strategists and leaders in filling that role.

At the CFO Rising conference on Wednesday, the panel of finance recruiters had this to say …

–At Fortune 1000 companies the number of controllers moving into CFO positions is down by about 33%. Conversely, those finance executives who have general management experience, strong operational contributions, and a record of leading strategic initiatives are the most sought after in filling Chief Financial Officer roles today. 

–The backward-looking mindset of accounting and FP&A is now outdated and has become commoditized.

–Companies want PROspective mindsets from their CFOs. The game has moved beyond numbers. It requires a CFO to have a strong controller and finance team in place so he is free to focus on the big picture with the CEO.

–There is a trending convergence of the COO and CFO roles. (I think the CFO who brings a solid finance skill set plus operational experience is poised to win this competition every time).

–Today’s CFO requires much more than being the “finance police.” It requires passion, energy, vision, and the proven ability to move a company forward.

Top Finance Concerns

The CFO Rising conference yesterday morning was right up my alley with sessions on Creating Alignment in the C-Suite, A New Dynamic in the Boardroom, and … particularly … Finance Skills for a New Decade. My next few blog posts will talk about what I heard, but I’ll start with some interesting stats that opened the morning.

The CFOs in attendance were polled around critical issues they are facing, and here are some of the results …

–89% felt the worst was over but do not anticipate a turn around anytime soon

–Only 4% felt growth was likely to happen in the next several months

–70% were concerned and VERY concerned (35%) around the cost effectiveness of proposed government regulations

–When asked about the proposed health care legislation, 69% were very concerned about the tax impacts and 62% were very concerned about the quality of care

Conversely, the attendees felt there was some good that came out of the economic downturn … it has forced finance to go back to basics.

–32% said they now had a core business focus

–25% were focused on increasing productivity

–3 out of 4 indicated they would be preserving cash as a hedge against economic uncertainty

–77% indicated their focus would be on organic growth … which means …

–Only 10% indicated M&A was a core business focus