Corporate AdvisoryGeneral Business

5 Qualities of a Successful CFO

It’s a common misconception for many businesses that the role of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) only focuses on the business’ finances. When really, a great CFO will be able to provide a holistic outlook on your business from end-to-end.

Have you considered employing a CFO for your business? Do you know what you’re looking for? Are you uncertain about what role they will play and whether your business is in a position to take them on board? Or maybe you’re questioning the performance of your current CFO.

If these are some of the thoughts scurrying through your mind, you may consider outsourcing your CFO. A key benefit of outsourcing this function is the flexibility to utilise their role to its maximum throughout the busier periods and adjust this in the quieter times. Outsourcing allows you to adopt a high-level service without the commitment of a full-time employee.

Before you do, we examine five qualities that your CFO should embody, which will ensure you bring on board a strong candidate.


An Excellent Communicator

A great CFO will be able to communicate with individuals at all levels. A CFO is responsible for effectively communicating information amongst employees, stakeholders and management. Verbal and written communications must be exceptional. If you already employ or are considering recruiting a CFO for your business, they must not shy away from the people in your organisation. It’s essential for them to be a connector in your company and have a helicopter perspective of all that happens within the business.


Honest & Trustworthy

Honesty and trust are not just traits important for a CFO to possess, rather they are two traits, which are the core foundation of any stable relationship in business and life. Your CFO must not be afraid of telling you the truth. It’s imperative that they can harness their experience and professional judgement in the decision-making process and communicate this effectively. As a business owner, ensuring transparency between yourself and the CFO will mean that no uncomfortable conversations or decisions are being swept under the carpet.


Strategic Mindset

Your CFO should be able to drive efficiency, assist with budgeting and cashflow management, operations, performance and shape the overall direction of your business.

Additionally, asking questions like, “Why are we doing this?” and “What are we hoping to achieve?” are important. Addressing the “why” and the desired outcomes makes the CFO’s work intentional and strategic. Both are necessary for driving business growth and profitability.

The benefit of having an outsourced CFO is that they’re also working on businesses outside of yours, which gives them a competitive edge and a broader range of experience and perspective, which they can bring to your company.

Before you go ahead and outsource your CFO initiatives be sure to chat with us to be sure that outsourcing is right for you.


Team Player and People Person

Not everyone in finance enjoys or works at their best when immersed amongst a team. Some individuals prefer to focus on numbers behind closed doors. While this working style is not a bad thing, when you’re looking for a great CFO, this preference may be a hindrance to their performance in your company. A CFO is not just about the numbers. This role requires a genuine care for the people within the company. They must know how each employee is performing and address the ones that aren’t at their best. A great CFO will be able to do both: numbers and people. An individual that can immerse themselves in your organisation with ease is an indicator that the working relationships they’ll also develop with external stakeholders will match.


Flexible and Open Minded

While the role of the CFO holds power, it’s important that they do not abuse this authority and shut the doors on other opinions and ideas. They must be willing to listen to your point of view. Being flexible ensures your CFO and your business are “responding” to the market,  rather than reacting to various obstacles that may present themselves along the way. An open mind, fosters sound and healthy business practice.

While there are many other notable traits and characteristics that a great CFO will have, these five are a strong starting point for you to keep in mind when recruiting for this position.


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Mitchell Turnbull
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