The Wall Street Journal published the results of their first CFO network meeting in the Monday June 27 edition. The network includes 60 CFO’s from leading organizations as well as subject matter experts including Clayton Christensen and Arthur Levitt. The discussion sheds interesting light on a world that few people outside of the finance organization see. Among the interesting discussions were the results of a survey that outlined the CFO’s top five priorities.
- Become a Strategic CFO
- Drive value through capital allocation
- Develop a financial leadership pipeline
- View cash as a strategic tool
- Provide short-term and long-term balance
Looking at these priorities highlights the consistency between all of the direct reports of the CEO – everyone wants to be more strategic, drive more value and have their unique resources appreciated among the executive team.
A prior post, The CIO and the Rest of the C-Suite, discusses a recent HBR article that highlights the changes across the entire C-Suite with particular focus on what they mean for the CIO and technology. That study mirrored the feedback reported by the WSJ CFO Network.
The CFO has as much right as the other C level positions to play a bigger role in setting strategy. As much, but not more for the reason that while a poor financial position closes strategic options and can kill a company, the opposite is not true. Financial strength alone does not make a company great. The same can be said for the CIO and technology, the CMO and marketing, as well as the Chiefs of HR and people.
Strategic importance comes from being more than ‘good enough’ or operating within the range of industry performance. Strategic importance comes from creating something valuable to customers and unique in the marketplace. More about that latter.
The opportunity to do that is open to every C-level and senior executive and based on the WSJ CFO network priorities it is a considerably more level playing field than one would expect.