6 Steps to Develop a Strategic CFO

Just as a ship captain needs a co-captain to help keep the ship on a steady path, the CEO also needs a co-captain to help navigate the murky waters of business and spot the opportunities and risks ahead. Often, the CEO relies on the CFO to be his or her right hand, but many CEOs feel their CFOs are not strategic enough. According to a new report from Chief Executive Network entitled “6 Steps to Develop a Strategic CFO”, there are several specific actions CFOs can take to better serve their CEOs.

To download a complimentary copy of this report, click here.

“Finance often is up to its ears in manual repetitive tasks that bog down the function,” says Sandy Cockrell, global leader and U.S. national managing partner of Deloitte’s CFO Program.

“I WORK CLOSELY WITH THE CEO ON WHERE WE WANT THE BUSINESS TO BE THREE, FIVE AND 10 YEARS INTO THE FUTURE.”

These often urgent tasks can leave little room for the thinking and reflection necessary for a CFO to provide genuine business insights that drive positive organizational change. While most financial analysis is primarily confined to that which has already happened, to help the CEO, the CFO should be more forward thinking.

  • Among other areas, your CFO should:
  • Analyze profit trends and product line & customer profitability
  • Help determine which businesses to invest in, harvest or exit
  • Analyze which activities to outsource or bring in-house
  • Assess the pros and cons of alternative distribution channels and models
  • Provide data, analysis and recommendations on other strategic decisions

“I’m extremely involved in how we grow the business, working closely with the CEO on where we want the business to be three, five and 10 years into the future,” says Mike DeDona, vice president and CFO at S.R. Smith, a manufacturer of commercial and residential pool deck equipment. “It’s a big part of what I do.”

In becoming a strategic CFO, DeDona, who started his career at S.R. Smith 18 years ago as a controller and became CFO in 2006, says he endeavored to understand all aspects of the company’s business. “I was definitely a numbers-cruncher in the beginning and very tactical,” he explains. “But I was eager to learn all I could about the business.”

In working with hundreds of CEOs and studying best practices at top-performing organizations, Chief Executive Network (CEN) has identified six imperatives—with specific action items—that can help transform your CFO into a forward-thinking strategic partner. Review these action items and more information on how to get your CFO thinking more strategically, by downloading this complimentary white paper. For more information about CEN’s peer network for CEOs, or the Senior Executive Network’s CFO peer network, please visit www.ChiefExecutiveNetwork.com.