Transformative CFOs shaking up task-focused industry

Successful CFOs are commanding a new brand of commercially dynamic role in a traditionally risk averse problem-centred industry.

That is the finding from unpublished exclusive research convened by The CFO Alliance and undertaken by London-based professional psychological assessment tool The GC Index.

The research will be published in full in the Q1 2017 edition of Dialogue, the global journal for managers and leaders, of which The CFO Alliance is a leading affiliation partner

Researchers assessed the role preferences of CFOs from three US companies operating indifferent sectors of the economy – housebuilding supplies, asset management and software.

Evidence from the GC Index database in part supported the stereotype of finance executives as cautious, compliant, risk-averse tacticians who are more focused on details and problems than ‘big picture’ commercial opportunities.

Yet results from The CFO Alliance study revealed a handful of dynamic, forward-thinking CFOs who have brought transformational change to their organizations.

“These individuals have the potential to add a very different sort of commercial value to the businesses that they serve – if their capabilities are recognized and nurtured, and if given the scope to turn ideas into reality,” Dr John Mervyn-Smith, chief psychologist and director at The GC Index, said.

Among the five role-preferences categorized by The GC Index – playmaker, game changer, strategist, polisher and implementer – strategists were the most poorly represented among the finance executives assessed in The CFO Alliance study.

But Nick Araco Jr, chief executive of The CFO Alliance, said the challenge lied not with the personalities of finance individuals, but with an industry that is coming to terms with the need to play a more holistic role across business functions – and which may not, in the past, have promoted or nurtured strategic thinking.

“The advancement and opportunity for finance professionals to demonstrate their strategic mindset is just being brought to bear,” he said. “Organizations come to realize that the principles and foundations that form the basis of financial analysis can be used to set – and execute – corporate growth strategies.

“It’s only because finance is now more proactively moving across what were once considered siloed functional lines that their strategic abilities are being brought to the forefront of corporate decision-making.”

For more information on how the The GC Index works, access the Dialogue journal on your desktop here…