The Traits of Today's CFO: A Handbook for Excelling in an Evolving Role

Publisher: AICPA
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As the business world grows in complexity and increases in pace, organisations expect the leaders of their management accounting teams to be just that-leaders. Crunching the numbers, running financial reports, and complying with rules and regulations are only a part of contemporary CFOs' or controllers' work. Equally important is CFOs' participation on the executive team as a strategic leader of the finance function, a strong communicator, high-level negotiator, and builder of a collaborative environment.

While your organisation expects you to take on this evolving role, you may not feel confident in your ability to perform these high-level functions. The Traits of Today's CFO: A Handbook for Excelling in an Evolving Role has the answers you need. This book explores in detail controllers' and CFOs' critical traits and explains specifically what actions are required to meet these requirements. It provides a wealth of information on coaching employees and, in the process, transferring accountability for results back to their hands. It further includes thorough coverage of best practices in governance and risk programmes, gap analysis, shaping organisational culture, and team building.

Drawing on studies of executives and leaders of finance teams, The Traits of Today's CFO develops a detailed picture of the contemporary and future controller and CFO and tells you how to powerfully perform in these roles.

Checklists, self-assessments, position descriptions, coaching exercises, and other practical tools make this book immediately useful to your work now and your own evolving career.

"There will always be a high demand for the strategic CFO," author Ron Rael says. Ensure you are a strategy-driven management accounting leader with this valuable book.

CGMA designation holders qualify for discounted pricing on this product. In order to receive your special pricing, you must be registered and signed in. View the complete list of development products available on CGMA.org.

About the Author

Ron Rael, CPA, is a thought leader for the CPA profession on leadership and CFO/controllership topics. He is the CEO of the High Road Institute, a leadership development organisation. Ron has authored content on topics such as professionalism, customer service, budgeting, accountability, governance, risk management, and strategic planning. He has coached more than 10,000 accounting professionals in organisations and leadership teams throughout the United States and Canada.

Ron's industry experience comes from working in two large corporations, as well as from leading accounting teams in numerous closely held businesses.

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Bean Counter to Business Leader: The Changing Role of the CFO

CFOs have a golden opportunity to show that they are true business leaders.

No More Beans

The role of the CFO is evolving, but due to the daily and never-ending pressures of closings, reporting, meeting deadlines, and the sea of other finance duties, a strong tendency still exists for the CFO to act as the “chief bean counter.” The white paper reviewed in this section encourages CFOs to shed this title in the following ways:

1. Improve Your Visibility by Turning Data Into Better Business Decisions
CFOs must create a common platform for the data they control so that everyone knows both the source and integrity of the numbers—financial and nonfinancial. They must have high quality data that is shared and fosters sound business decisions.

2. Create Quick Wins
CFOs and their team should work on low hanging fruit and focus their efforts on the sharpest pains. One way to help a team get quick wins is to have better forecasting techniques and share reliable data with others.

3. Design the Right Roadmap
CFOs must establish an accurate roadmap for their team and establish specific and achievable goals with three different time frames. Three different time frames for goals help you to be strategic but not neglect the tactical part of your job:

  • Long-term
  • Mid-term
  • Short-term

4. Empower the Organisation
As CFO, your responsibility is to empower the organisation by

  • distributing information,
  • balancing centralisation with authority,
  • providing tools,
  • providing data with analysis, and
  • fostering a performance culture.

However, you cannot implement this fourth strategy alone. The entire leadership team helps to establish a performance-sensitive culture, which requires each member to

  • collaborate,
  • convince others,
  • negotiate,
  • inspire others, and
  • listen.
The views expressed in the previous section are drawn from a BPM Partners white paper, July 2009.

Table of Contents

System Requirements

About the Publisher


About the AICPA
The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) is the world's largest member association representing the accounting profession, with more than 412,000 members in 144 countries, and a history of serving the public interest since 1887. AICPA members represent many areas of practice, including business and industry, public practice, government, education and consulting. The AICPA sets ethical standards for the profession and U.S. auditing standards for private companies, nonprofit organizations, federal, state and local governments. It develops and grades the Uniform CPA Examination, and offers specialty credentials for CPAs who concentrate on personal financial planning; forensic accounting; business valuation; and information management and technology assurance. Through a joint venture with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, it has established the Chartered Global Management Accountant designation, which sets a new standard for global recognition of management accounting.