The Entrepreneurial CFO

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A CFO is no longer just the person providing financial analysis and mitigating legal and financial risks. Today’s CFO is the CEO’s right hand executive and a strategic trusted advisor. The role of a successful CFO is to enable the CEOs, owners and management to fulfil their corporate vision as the company’s finance function is a key factor for creating success. The primary objective of the CFO is to enable CEOs to deliver to their companies’ continuous improved financial returns, increased cash flow, improved financial position and increased overall business value.

A contemporary CFO must think differently and provide alternative perspectives. The CFO should be in tune with the culture of the organization and understand the importance of momentum for the organization to reach its full potential.

Apart from regular finance related responsibilities, an entrepreneurial CFO focuses on:

  • Catalyst to technology adoption The right financial processes, tools and practices should be established so that day-to-day financial management is enabled efficiently and controls are enhanced. Today’s CFO not only develops KPIs and understands performance trends, but also develops and implements strategies to improve them. The CFO also needs to continuously raise the bar and empower the employees and thereby push the organization forward.
  • Strategic advisor – The CFO understands in depth, the market opportunity, strategy and business model of the organization. The CFO plays the role of a trusted advisor to the senior executive team as he/she is the best person to provide a unique perspective that looks across all departments.
  • Disciplined operator – To ensure success, today’s CFO must speak the language of business and understand that the key drivers of business are often significantly more than what shows up on the balance sheet. He/she provides data, information, insights and puts them into action.
  • Partner to CEO – The CFO helps CEOs and business leaders to gain a sense of financial control thereby creating a better overall working environment. He/she also partners with CEOs in reducing risk in forming strategy.

The role of an entrepreneurial CFO is hands-on, focused not only on financials but also on the myriad of operational and strategic issues that affect an organization. Besides the CEO, the CFO is the only person with a clear view of the big picture and operates without a specific bias towards line functions.

Karthik Ganeshan

Co-Founder and Director, BeyondSquare Solutions.