For new graduates entering the corporate world, the image of a CFO and the duties of a CFO are simple and straightforward. Basically, a CFO is the one who is operating behind the curtains and is the one who says no to ideas or certain things due to the budget of an organization. Rather than going for strategic analysis the CFO is limited to a box of “sign-off”, the basic purpose of a CFO is to crush numbers, to ensure that the company or organization is in statutory compliance and financial reporting.
When it comes down to experience there is a difference in perspective, a person with an experience of 30 years in the field would differ from the picture that a fresh graduate has in mind. The reality is a bit different, in this fast-paced world everything is changing and the role of a CFO is no exception. While it is true that a CFO of yesterday was put in a box and was considered as only the financial support of an organization, the CFO of today’s world is quite different. Now the CFO has relevancy in the strategies of a company or an organization. In the fast moving and rapidly changing business environment that is of today, the CFO is the one that is leading the companies towards their success.
As discussed above, the role of a CFO is still the same, this records and books, to ensure that the company or organization is in statutory compliance and financial reporting. These tasks are still highlighted and looked for in a CFO, well not all if, obviously there is a finance team which is lead by the CFO. However, the truth is that now these tasks are being taken for granted by the CEOs, this does not in any way imply that these tasks are negligible, it just means that there are more than just these basic tasks, these are just the minimum requirements, a CFO is considered an asset to the organization when they start working on the strategies and bringing up the business.
The CFO today use their skill and knowledge to influence the decision making and strategy for business organizations. Being a CFO is more than just having accounting skills of the past, CFO of today is the also considered as the Chief Operating Officer, who guides and influences the decision-making process by considering the financial aspect.
The most important qualities and skills that are looked for in a CFO include leadership qualities, understanding of operations and controls of the organization, and most importantly the skill to strategize plans that are realistic and can be funded.
If a CFO lacks the leadership and communication skills then the effectiveness decreases right there and then. The job of a CFO is to take the whole finance team together as a whole and communicate clearly and effectively to avoid any blunders that can cause some serious setbacks.