As a CFO you are expected to be your CEO’s strategic partner and growth advocate. Your responsibilities include (but are definitely not limited to) overseeing the company’s business model and administering the efficient distribution of capital.
But you are no longer solely responsible for crunching numbers; instead, CFO also have to shift their attention to analytics, brand activation, and people management. This can be tough, especially when your team is already working up to 50 hours per week.
By thinking outside the box and embracing your new role as a creative CFO, you can bring incredible strategic value to your firm. Here are five questions for you to ask to be an innovative CFO.
1. Are we continuing to improve fiscal discipline?
Despite the other areas that you may have to dabble in, first and foremost, your role is to improve fiscal discipline. In addition to examining revenue and spending, as a CFO, your eyes must also be continually scrutinizing operational metrics. No matter how large and profitable, no firm is ever in a position to bypass fiscal discipline.
Your expense management is key to your long-term success, and so you must continuously check and re-check operational metrics, striving to improve your firm’s fiscal discipline.
Creative CFOs are those who can become analytical wizards.
2. Who else can provide me with valuable insight?
Hopefully, they communicate it to you, but your CEO wants (and in many cases, needs) you to be more involved in strategy. This means that your responsibilities will also include monitoring the entire company to ensure resources are efficiently utilized.
Obviously, you can’t know the ins and outs of every company process on your own. So make sure you are regularly meeting and communicating with representatives from every department, from HR to customer service to IT and sales.
Focus on developing strong relationship skills, both with other employees and with external relationships within the industry.
If you are looking for qualified and reliable staff to build your team, you may be interested in utilizing the resources of a company that manages the best available talent.
4. Can we increase automation?
Automation also helps you see the bigger picture (and possible problems) quickly and more clearly. It also helps to cut down on the wasted time and resources that are inevitably spent when trying to collect data.
You need your team to spend their time thinking strategically and proactively, not fumbling around with hundreds of datasets (possibly in multiple currencies, multiple regions, and numerous branches) and spreadsheets.
Automating and consolidating your business processes gives you invaluable, real-time insight into spending, policy adherence, and potential abuse. What this also means is that creative CFOs must be open to adopting and adapting new technologies.
5. Are we all committed to the goals we created?
After creating and establishing regular forecasts, it is time to ensure that all members of the team are committed to the goals created. Make sure you know how HR is tying employee reviews and team evaluations to your firm’s financial goals. The most efficient way to do this is through dashboards and scorecards, as you can break down big goals to track progress and keep team members focused and motivated.
Additionally, being aware of what other team members are working on is key to staying committed to overall goals. While you may not personally be involved in the day-to-day operations of BTL campaigns or events & launches, you want to ensure that you are able to provide support, guidance, and brainstorming efforts whenever possible.
6. Am I planning for the future?
Creative CFO know they need to be able to look around corners to understand their businesses’ future. You cannot constantly be looking backward and stressing over whether you met last year’s financial goals.
In this regard, predictive analysis, strategic modeling, and answering what-if scenarios are essential. These steps help you to understand the measurements of individual risks fully and then work on strategies for turning them into positive growth.
Marketing solutions are another area in which creative CFO can help plan for the future. Whether your firm is a start-up or a massive corporation, marketing solutions such as digital marketing, media buying, and strategic insights are essential for delivering on your brand’s promise. BTL campaigns, such as brand activation and in-store marketing, are all areas in which the future of your firm can be encouraged.
Tony Youssef is the co-founder and CEO of Pulsar Group. Pulsar Activation is a full-fledged hassle-free brand activation agency that has been based in the UAE for 10 years, with branches in Beirut and Cairo. Pulsar Production is the “State of the Art” manufacturing facility in the MENA region.