Since 2008, there are many studies from business consulting organizations, research firms, and prestigious universities in regards to the changing role of the CFO. In these studies, the Chief Financial Officer was named using terms ranging from “CFO Superstar” to simple terms such as “business partner”, “financial adviser”, “functional leader” and “value integrator”. Whichever name you use, it is a fact that the CFO has dramatically changed his/her role. It is without a doubt that new business models, global operations, business expansion, fiscal complexities, governmental restrictions, and new risks are demanding much more from financial leaders. There is a strong expectation for CFOs to serve as strategic business advisers -the most knowledgeable individuals in business performance and information for decision making-, cost controllers, risk preventers, and trusted counselors to the Chief Executive Officer.
Nevertheless, the CFO’s role has to be conceived as a philosophy. It is not enough to be a CPA, MBA, or to have been a Finance Director for more than 10 years; a CFO’s role is a discipline based on a learning curve of increasing responsibilities. But, how do CFOs build this foundation? First of all, they learn from the example of “visionary” CFOs, with many years of working experience. Secondly, they usually work in strong finance organizations, in companies ahead of their industries, which have reached their current position as a consequence of using world class accounting-financial-fiscal processes and information technology. Finally, CFOs work in companies with a strategic-thinking orientation.
As a CFO myself, I built my philosophy based on working closely to extraordinary bosses and building my career in great companies, well known for their innovative orientation and devotion to creating entrepreneurial professionals.