The role of the Chief Financial Officer

As responsible for both the finance function and the strategy for the General Management and the management committee, of which he is a member, the Chief Financial and Administration Officer of a group has become in the space of a few years one of the leading players in companies. He is at the forefront of internal or external development, oversees all reorganizations and frequently organizes financial communication for any event that is part of the company’s life.

Accounting as a cornerstone of the Chief Financial Officers

Drafting of the company’s financial statements and consolidated, ensuring their compliance and reliability. Depending on the size of the group, it thus ensures the classification of the Chief Financial Officers of the subsidiaries and/or divisions, an Accounting Director, a Consolidation Director, a Management Control Director, one or more shared services (where the general and auxiliary accounts of the various group entities are kept),

The Chief Financial Officer is part of management and has decision-making power

CFO headhunters strategy is depending on the groups, the internal control team and participate in the implementation of new rules and regulations.

He is responsible for participating in the definition of corporate strategy (and its operational shaping), the organization of financial communication and relations with shareholders and investors, as well as the supervision of internal auditing (although this department often reports directly to the Management General), legal and tax matters, human resource management and general services.

Training and skills of the Chief Financial Officer

Usually in possession of a Diploma issued by a School of Economics and Business or at the university level, the Chief Financial Officer of a group of companies has often completed his initial training in order to acquire an accounting and financial technical competence attested by the achievement of a high school diploma in accounting.

In large corporate groups, the classic access to this function takes place through various experiences, for example as financial controller of subsidiaries or director of management control, but often also via the post of director of internal audit or director of accounting. It may also be noted that, in publicly traded companies, the Chief Financial Officer often already has experience in an investment bank or an accounting firm of the Big4 type.

The Chief Financial Officer must have technical skills superior to those related to his function in finance and demonstrate ease in relationships, strong sensitivity to the economic activity of the company and far-sighted vision.

From containing conflict at the board level to aligning team skills according to business needs, the CFO as coach and talent manager is a growing trend. How has the new skill set impacted the interactions between finance teams and the broader corporate structure? How has their view of soft skills changed compared to more technical skills?

Previously, the finance function required many attributes: analytical thinking, insight, assertiveness, and – no doubt – technical expertise. But today, the modern financial professional also needs to exhibit a wide range of soft skills, including the ability to convey complex ideas simply, or again, in engaging terms.

For Eugene Low, CFO of Mercer Indonesia, some things can be transferred easily while others cannot. “I can teach accounting in a day – but what I really need to see in an aspiring finance leader is curiosity. Business curiosity; curiosity to identify ways to lead different teams towards the same goals and grow the company.

Europe, he explains: the CFO is the window to the business for shareholders, investors and other external stakeholders. “One of the things I hope to convey is a different approach to business, through a holistic and systemic view, really putting yourself in the shoes of the markets,” notes Briley.

Coaching other board members links facts and figures to strategy, and linking it to investors pays dividends. But to achieve this, senior finance leaders need to reevaluate not only their own skills, but also those of their closest team members.

CFOs must act as trailblazers for their team, be both coaches and motivators, and a focal point for an increasingly diverse team. “But it’s not just about integrating new generations,” clarifies CFO of Sebastien Rouge. “It’s really about integrating different operational teams. We are faced with multigenerational teams, people with multiple abilities and greater ethnic and gender diversity. The challenge, therefore, is to make the most of this diversity.

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