Q: Why did the accountant divorce her banker? 

A: They couldn’t reconcile their differences.

Is Your CFO a Score Keeper or Finance Partner? by Brian Califano

The tasks and requisite skill sets of a successful CFO are different from a “regular” CPA/Controller (and it’s not a sense of humor as indicated above!). Over the years as CFOs for the small and medium business community, the role has evolved into becoming the financial spokesperson for the company and the vision that the CEO has for it in the marketplace and the community.    

As the CFO, the biggest value we add is the ability to present complex information in an easy-to-digest manner for both employees and external stakeholders alike.. He or she must understand the interplay between various sources of information that affect the company’s standing, including drivers both in revenue and expenses, risk-assessment, and marketing campaigns.  Once this is understood and documented, the CFO must have the ability to effectively communicate how the company will be able to succeed in the future under multiple scenarios and outcomes. For example, when speaking to investors, a CFO must be able to explain the sources of a company’s EBITDA and the key assumptions that are used to forecast future performance.  In the current environment, with so many macroeconomic issues impacting companies such as inflation, interest rates and the Russian-Ukraine conflict, the CFO must identify and quantify 

Most individuals who are financially savvy will be able to comprehend the numbers of a given company. And there are number-crunchers who can quickly calculate metrics, like gross margin, return on assets, etc., in his or her head. 

Computing data is only half the equation (like that pun?!). It is the successful and well-respected CFO that is able to speak to the global vision of a company while understanding the details of what is necessary to achieve that vision. CFOs need a certain level of gravitas. In our world, gravitas means the ability to effectively and succinctly communicate complex ideas while commanding an audience and inspiring trust and confidence — all at the same time. 

For example, when the CEO sets a goal to be the #1 company in his or her market, it’s the CFO that identifies what that means on a financial level and how to allocate the company’s resources to achieve the goal. All leadership sets the tone at the top, and the CFO conveys a sense of control, transparency, and success in all internal and external communications.  

By understanding all aspects of a company’s operations, the seasoned CFO will demand that each department list out key metrics of success and then hold the department accountable during the year, while ensuring that all departments are working towards the same vision. 

A perfect example of this coordination is the budgeting and forecasting process that all companies (including yours!) should be doing. The successful CFO looks at all departments, whether it’s revenue generating or a cost center, and meets with the respective department heads to understand plans for the next one to three years — and makes adjustments accordingly.  The CFO needs to understand the business in order to translate the financial performance of the company into goals and objectives that are quantifiable and measurable.

Take-away: If you are seeking CFOs with gravitas and financial leadership to help you quantify your vision to your constituents, reach out to Brian or Scott at info@acceleartingcfo.com for a free diagnostic. 

Brian Califano & Scott MargolinBrian Califano

Scott Margolin

Co-founders & Managing Partners


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