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6 CFO leaders impart their most strategic financial advice

[Written for Replicon blog]

For years now those in the CFO role have been increasingly involved in top-level decision-making and viewed more and more as a strategic business partner — a notable departure from the less-dynamic CFO role of days past. Today’s CFO has the financial expertise, leadership abilities, and business acumen to not just implement corporate strategy, but also help define this strategy and drive significant organizational change as needed.

As leaders at such global companies as Twitter, Ford, Chevron, etc, the six following CFOs have experience managing millions (and sometimes billions) of dollars, as well as a special vantage point into how exactly these businesses are run. Below they offer their best piece of advice for understanding and improving your business from a financial perspective:

Twitter CFO Anthony Noto on proactive action and delving deeper to understand your business:

“Great leaders of organizations run after problems, make their footprint bigger than their foot, and always strive to find the truth — because you have to get to the truth to be excellent.”

Ford CFO Bob Shanks on keying into real-time:

“Operating a global business in a fast-changing world, you have to be grounded real-time in the external environment, have complete transparency, be fact-based and working with a great, collaborative team.”

Chevron CFO Pat Yarrington on risk and opportunity in a global economy:

“With an increasingly integrated world economy, be prepared to respond to higher levels of both risk and opportunity. A strong balance sheet is a tremendous asset when managing through periods of volatility.”

Dow Chemical CFO Howard Ungerleider on organizational accountability and focus:

“In this more volatile macroeconomic environment, finance organizations hold a significant leadership role in developing true value-based cultures. It begins with a strong accountability focus within the organization — a clear understanding of value drivers, coupled with scorecards based on common financial metrics.

In this way, the finance organization elevates from the transactional and becomes a true ‘co-pilot’ in driving business strategy for attractive, sustainable growth.”

The Hartford CFO Beth Bombara on understanding cash flow and employee roles:

“The way to navigate any investment, business proposition, or financing opportunity is to follow the money. In my days as an auditor, understanding complicated transactions always started with an analysis of the cash flows. Regardless of how elaborate a deal or business might be, the underlying economics tell the real story about who is paid, for what, and when.

Know the objectives of the parties involved and their role in a company’s financial success. Get a full grasp of how a business turns profits on paper into money in the bank.”

Dun & Bradstreet CFO Rich Veldran on the CFO’s three key roles:

“The primary mandate of the CFO is to be the guardian of shareholder value for the company. Traditionally, this was about managing risk, but today CFOs are expected to balance risk and opportunity. It’s become quite a quite multi-dimensional role.

In making decisions, there are really three important roles that CFOs perform.

Firstly, we need to make the right investment decisions to drive growth. Second, ensuring that we turn that revenue into strong earnings and cash flow through smart resource utilization and cost management. Finally, we need to optimize our capital structure and make smart, strategic use of the cash that we generate.

Underpinning this all is the need to maintain a rock-solid control environment and to build and develop a top notch, highly energized and committed team.”

 

Source: CFO Insider