Recently a group of CFOs met in Paris to share their thoughts around the changing demands placed upon them.
One attendee focused on the perception that CFOs are seen as “no” people who anticipate and identify problems and raise red flags. This brought about a comparison between CFOs and high performance race cars.
A seasoned CFO in attendance said many CFOs simply hit the brakes of their proverbial high performance race cars when they see a few bumps in the road, slowing what may have been perceived as progress, growth and the success of the company. This is about risk management. As one CFO pointed out, the brakes are there to allow the race car to achieve and maintain very high speeds. As a CFO, do you go around the bumps at full speed, slow down a bit to avoid the bumps, slow down to gently go over the bumps so you don’t wreck the expensive car (you get the picture)?
I’ve simplified it, but how can a CFO innovate without slowing down progress?
Suggestion: Identify risk (obvious), provide creative alternatives, open up brainstorming, and reach innovative solutions that limit and manage risk while allowing business objectives to be accomplished.
I know. It’s not that simple, but this is a good starting point and well worth the effort. After all, the CFO has virtually equal responsibility for the success of the company as the CEO, albeit without much of the glory.
If you’d like to know more of what your CFO peers discussed, check out this 5-page summary (You Don’t Have to Be Superman to be a CFO - But it Would Help).