The Romance of Being a CFO

By in Accounting and Finance, Leadership

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Romance has nothing to do

With a CFO who is tired & blue

So where is the romance of being a CFO?

Love is Constant

Surely, in such a relentless job, it’s like mixing water and oil? The two will always separate?

Anyone who truly knows and understands the particular qualities that make a great CFO will appreciate the following characteristics they are likely to demonstrate:

  • Intelligent
  • Hard-working
  • Dedicated
  • Innovative
  • Collaborative
  • Strategic
  • Personable

It’s fair to say ‘romantic’ is not one of those qualities and – given the long hours and loyalty CFOs offer their executive team, Board, finance team and the staff in their organisation – romance is probably the last thing on their minds.

Love is blind

Let’s be straight here…

CFOs are often buried in detail, meetings, planning, technical issues, and legal and governance matters, while concurrently dealing with crisis upon crisis. Somehow, they find a way to squeeze in family and friends, community and even special or charitable causes, such as offering their services for not-for-profit organisations.

While the CFO may receive a relatively high level of remuneration, does that really compensate for missing the music concerts and sporting competitions of their children? What about those dinners with loved ones when, in fact, you’re stuck in an airport on your way home from some distant far-flung part of your organisation (in which you advised your CEO against investing, and now it has become a black hole and liability for your company)?

To be a successful CFO (i.e. to do the job you are empowered to execute) requires all those qualities already noted and more. Did I also mention ‘passion for your role’ or ‘caring for those around you’? Or being able to patiently negotiate with stakeholders – like dissident shareholders, media who act like adversaries or potential corporate raiders?

And then, on top of all of this, is the constant actual change in the regulatory environment – potential legislative changes, changes in tax law, privacy laws, external financial reporting, corporate governance, ASX listing rule changes and the role of investor activism groups… There is a lot of stuff going on for CFOs.

It doesn’t matter how many people you have supporting you; staying afloat with all of these issues is stressful and time-consuming, and it may even feel like a waste of time. But it is a CFO’s role and responsibility to take and, and to watch the back of the CEO, coordinate with the other senior executives and execute the strategic direction of the Board.

The CFO role is constant – there is very little relief, especially in a global enterprise with 24/7 activities, and for listed companies with continuous disclosure occupying time and considerations.

Love is looking forward… not back

At this point, you may well consider that there is no romance in the role of the CFO, it simply is a well remunerated role for destroying your happy family life, your good health, sanity and peaceful existence. But that would be a short-sighted view of the CFO role

Just as the role of treasurer in parliamentary democracies has been a stepping stone on the way to the prime ministership, the role of CFO has consistently been seen – in all corporate, government and NFP sectors – as the 2IC (and preceding position) to the CEO. And CFOs understand this fact. Indeed, successful CFOs can expect a long and interesting career at Board level. So the CFO role can often be part of the journey that, ultimately, lands you in a far more challenging and rewarding position than the CFO role itself. This accounts for the ambitious CFOs who have a longer plan of where their career can go.

But what about the CFOs who are doing the hard yards without the promise of future glories? What’s in it for them? Herein lies the real romance of being a CFO… They love leading, being innovative, helping people, being responsible, and creating value and success for the stakeholders of the organisation.

To know a CFO who loves their job, is to know a CFO who enjoys the romance of their responsibility and the opportunity to positively affect change in the lives of the people in their organisation and their stakeholders.

The romance of being a CFO is very real. It will live on as long as CFOs continue to want to create a positive change.

 

We make the lives of CFOs easier. Speak to your William Buck advisor.

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