The CFO of the Future acting as a Business Partner

Last Friday we hosted an exciting CFO dinner around "The CFO of the Future"with peers from very diverse companies such as ENI, Indaver, Oracle, McBride, Alliance LS, Thermo Fisher Scientific, NHV, Groep Zorg H. Familie, Recomatics, ...

This session was a 1st deep-dive into 1 of the 4 pillars (Business Partnering, Strategic Direction, Technology, People Management) identified as Critical Key Areas for the "The CFO of the Future".

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Isabelle Van Iseghem, current CFO at MediaGeniX Next Generation, accepted the role as moderator/facilitator and made it a very interactive, highly-valued and fun Dinner.

She kicked-off assessing the expectations of each individual attendee (learning, sharing, sparring, become inspired a.o.) and threw in a couple of statements. Should we learn more about each other's Business roles? What is the Definition of a Business Partner? Should Finance go more to the Business or should the Business come more to Finance? Has Finance locked itself in his "Ivory Tower" throughout the years?

Should we attract Talent from outside of Finance?

As already stated during one of our previous CFO sessions, and also during this Dinner, there was a general consensus that Compliance is thé basis, thé non-negotiable responsibility of the CFO. Being a Business Partner should always/only add to that.

During the very interactive evening I noted down some key take-aways and believe they can be summarized in 3 main Clusters.

  1. Definition of a Business Partner
  2. Surround yourself with Talents & build Partnerships
  3. Communicate & be in the Drivers' seat

* DEFINITION of a BUSINESS PARTNER

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A Finance Business Partner tells a Story to all the employees in different departments of the company in a very comprehensive & approachable way. What are the current numbers? How do/will they evolve? But even more - What does these numbers mean (to me and my company)? What should we be sensitive for? What are the Risk & Opportunities?

A great Definition of a "Finance Business Partner" was brought by one of the Attendees:

A Finance Business Partner provides value-add information with action-oriented insights to "the Business", allowing them to adjust their behavior and achieve Business Objectives successfully .

Great one, right? You might want to read it twice and print it out ;-)

* SURROUND YOURSELF WITH TALENTS & BUILD PARTNERSHIPS

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When talking to CFO's about their Future, they always mention their Finance teams. A CFO can only be as strong as the people he is surrounded with. A few interesting topics were brought to the table. Should we hire only people with Finance skills and build on their strengths - or do just the opposite: take people out of their comfort zones and let them grow? Is the culture of a company thé most important variable to create a perfect match? Are competencies and skills equally important?

A very nice example was a company where accountants have evolved with(in) the company and became the new Controllers! We even got a great tip for our next Job interview with candidates:

Let your candidate "Tell the Business Story" when you provide him/her with some high level financials during the Interview.

Of course taking this approach would need Financial technical skills but will give you a 1st impression of the Communication skills of your candidate(Cluster 3).

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Additionally our attendees highlighted that, doing this in isolation with your own team, will not be a great measure for succes. You need to surround yourself with other teams as well and position yourself as a "Support for the Business". A nice example was a case where HR, IT & Finance signed a Charter and positioned themselves as "Business Support".

* COMMUNICATE & BE IN THE DRIVERS' SEAT

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The CFO of the Future will need to become a great Communicator with all his different stakeholders. Ensure that the message is fully understood and that necessary actions are taken, is nowadays more important then it has ever been in the past. A CFO should go in the field (as well internally as externally) and deliver his message.

An example in the Social Sector was provided. Since technical Finance knowledge was limited for certain stakeholders, you need to ensure your message gets understood, hence be a good communicator.

I always get very energized by these interactive CFO sessions. Each time these sessions confirm that we are doing the right thing: bring talented people together at nice locations with great & interactive content.

Are you ready to join our next CFO session on December 1st around "Strategic Direction"? Subscribe via this link

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