Is your CFO the CEO-in-Waiting?

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The functions of the Chief Financial Officer go beyond balancing the books and comparing inflows and outflows. Increasingly, the CFO has become a crucial partner in determining the direction of the firm, especially in terms of what it invests in and how soon it realizes returns.

The work of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has recently developed from a simple office title to a more complex form of responsibility.

The CFO used to be seen simply as a financial guardian. Now, however, the job has become more extensive and elaborate in that the CFO now functions as both a counselor and a mentor to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).

These days, most CFOs report that their bosses want them to play bigger roles in forming plans of action for their companies.

Several of them say CEOs have come to expect them to scrutinize even the firm’s policies and direction.

Unfortunately, not all CFOs have shifted to more challenging assignments inside the boardrooms.

Instead of being able to follow the trend, some CFOs are still drowning in age-old accounting practices such as the mundane presentation of annual financial figures. These time-consuming activities prevent them from transforming themselves into business leaders and partners.

The dawn of information technology and the new attention given to qualitative and quantitative techniques and studies in coming up with executive decisions only heighten the pressure the CFO faces as he or she fulfills duties that have become almost akin to the job of the Chief.

The CFO must act as the financial gatekeeper in the organization, guaranteeing the reliability and accuracy of data on tax, budget, income and capital. After all, the CFO is very much part of the top brass and his or her position in the hierarchy is, most of the time, just one step away from the CEO.

The CFO takes the crucial assignment of collaborating with company owners in crafting and selecting tactical strategies for the whole firm.

These times, the CFO is considered to be a major source of information and insights during shareholder conferences and meetings. He or she is also regarded as a principal authority and a unifier who lays down the monetary, economic and commercial objectives of the institution.

In many instances, the CFO serves as the seasoned ‘right-hand man’ of the CEO and he or she gives up-to-date and well-calculated recommendations to the Board of Directors.

Nowadays, the CFO is progressively performing a more significant task in the formation of the establishment’s overall game plans, amid the huge risks posed by external business conditions.

This situation comes as most firms see the handling of financial turbulence in macroeconomics as a big influence in the design of their investment blueprint and outlook.

CFOs are now being considered as repositories of delicate business ideas and important financial data which are needed to smoothly run the operations of the firm. In essence, in the eyes of their contemporaries, CFOs appear to be “CEOs-in-Waiting.”