How CFOs can meet, and exceed, a new era’s expectations.
The job of a Chief Financial Officer is changing. Formerly somewhat passive figures within an organization, responsible for filing monthly reports, keeping track of costs and meeting external metrics of compliance, today’s CFOs are under increased pressure to actually drive the growth of a business, not just report on it and make sure that it comes in under budget. Indeed, recent research conducted in partnership with HFS, Cognizant found that 90% of finance executives now consider driving growth to be at the core of the modern finance function.
But we also found a lot of anxiety. Of the finance leaders surveyed, only 12% said that they and their organizations are living up to this new set of expectations. Some may have been too hard on themselves; when the executives graded their own firms’ performance in four categories of finance-function success—Cost, Control, Influence and Outcomes—the percentage of firms getting optimal or near-optimal performance from their finance functions was more like 25%—a top quartile we’ll call the ‘finance superheroes.’
What makes the superheroes different? In a word: mindset. To a striking extent, the surveyed firms who made it to Superhero status were the ones most willing to embrace a new, more agile and integrated approach to the finance function.
How does this mindset manifest in practice? What concrete changes can aspiring Superheroes make to join the ranks of the gifted elite? Let’s find out.
Defeating organizational siloes
The first area in which superheroes stand out from the crowd is in their willingness break down barriers to internal collaboration and to dismantle the organizational ‘siloes’ compartmentalizing their finance function. Rather than treating their firm’s component parts as discrete units, each with its own lines of communication ‘upwards’ to the finance team, Superhero finance organizations are far more likely to drive holistic transformation programs that encompass the entire finance function. (36% percent of ‘superheroes’ are driving transformation programs across all functional towers, compared to just 16% of ‘aspirants’). Superhero finance teams seamlessly integrate their work with adjacent, top-level enterprise functions—such as Procurement, Supply Chain, CRM, and ERP.