CFOs struggle with growing job demands

Chief financial officers have admitted to an information shortfall of the
wider issues their businesses face and are struggling to meet the growing
demands of their role.

New research canvassed the opinion of 251 high-flying finance chiefs and
found that while 97% of the respondents acknowledge that the CFOs’ roles have
grown broader, more than one in three believe increased expectations from the
board and audit committee has contributed to the expanding role of the CFO.

‘CFOs are being pulled in all directions by the conflicting demands of the
various roles that their position entails and ultimately this is not
sustainable,’ said Richard Sandwell, lead partner, finance & performance
management at Ernst & Young, the author of the survey.

More is required, including participating in strategy development, leading M
&A activity, and providing indicators for predicting business performance:
88% of respondents said that ‘being good with numbers’ was no longer enough, E
&Y said.

Stuart Hall, CFO of Pace Micro, also believes that the CFO’s role has evolved

The fundamentals of good financial controls, checking for fraud and
weaknesses in the systems were still a standard feature for FDs, but were now
only a fraction of the CFO’s remit, Hall said. ‘It’s much more strategic now.
For me it’s a lot more interesting because it’s what I enjoy doing. But for
other people, it’s a lot of pressure. Certainly in public companies they are
looking for the finance guy to match the CEO in terms of vision and
understanding of the business ­ not in the same detail, but in having a good
understanding of the markets.’

Hall said that companies were still looking for the CFO to be the ‘ticking
the box’ person but rather than just endorsing the historical numbers, FDs now
had to provide value in terms of the future forecasting of the business.

‘It’s a given now, whereas that used to be the [whole] job. It used to be
“tell me the numbers when they come out” and someone else used to relate it to
the business. Now its about company value created. ‘It’s about bringing the
numbers to life rather than just accounting and telling everyone how crap and
overbudget they are,’ Hall added.

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