Recently our Finance team hosted a roundtable dinner discussion with a number of CFOs within our BIE Community. The discussion led to some stimulating debate and it was clear that certain themes resonated with everyone around the table, regardless of their sector.
As we move into 2018, there was much discussion around MI and ‘decision support’, which are clearly becoming business-critical areas. As businesses, supply chain partners and customers are closely integrated, and as access to data and information becomes more readily available, finance leaders are under more pressure to deliver high-quality, ‘real-time’ MI with greater complexity, than ever before.
This, it would appear, is leading to a deeper focus on how CFOs and their teams manage expectations of stakeholders and act as true business partners with other functions, which will lead to more investment in this area in 2018.
There were also reminders from many attendees that given the current economic climate, cash remains king! Balance sheet and cash-flow management remain extremely important in today’s inter-connected world where revenue is generated in multiple currencies and across multiple jurisdictions or business areas.
This prompted discussion around how CFOs could and should manage ‘financial control’ within their teams. It was clear that many felt that all finance team-members, regardless of title or focus, should always respect and understand the principles of good cash management and how important it is to the success of a business.
Looking to the future, there was a debate around the role of the number 2 to a CFO. Should they be a numbers person to allow the CFO to be more commercially focused? This inspired conversation on where the next CFO is coming from within the organisation and whether or not the rise of finance specialisms such as shared-services, FP&A and commercial finance are hindering succession planning.
Most agreed mandatory rotation between specialisms should take place in order to create a more rounded finance professional, and produce a greater pipeline of more commercially minded CFOs that will benefit the business in the long-term.
It's imperative that the CFO encourages the finance team to engage and embed themselves within the whole business early on, especially in regards to decision support and financial control, ensuring there is clarity and commitment across the business underpinning commercial decisions from the bottom up and the top down. As leaders, it's vital to ensure that the ‘why’ is articulated throughout the whole business rather than communicated solely at the executive, regional or functional level.
If you would like to discuss any of these themes in more detail with Simon, please get in touch via Simon’s contact page here.