Voices of the CFO: Finance Leaders Flex With Strategic Demands

chief financial officer

“Chief collaborator.” “Resource.” “Service Provider.”

Just some of the many ways chief financial officers (CFOs) describe their roles within their organizations.

When interviewed for the PYMNTS series “A Day in the Life of a Digital-First CFO,” these finance leaders said today’s CFOs have responsibilities far beyond doing the books — they also participate in business decisions, technology selections and other aspects of the enterprise.

Wearing Multiple Hats 

CFOs often find themselves involved in the planning side of every department, helping to figure out which new technologies and tools to bring in, Virta Health CFO Alok Bhushan told PYMNTS in an October 2021 interview.

Watch the video: Donning Many Hats, the CFO Must Play a Vital Role in Business Digitization

Bhushan said he has discovered that he plays an important role in expanding digitization to other areas of the company’s operations.

“The CFO has to wear many hats, and oftentimes that includes areas outside of traditional accounting and finance, and into things such as human resources,” Bhushan said. “It’s all about understanding where to add value and get that return on investment, so you can work out how to best invest in the company’s growth.”

Driving the 2.0 Transformation 

The acceleration of digitization in the enterprise has given CFOs a much bigger say in the direction that transformation takes, Airbase CFO Aneal Vallurupalli told PYMNTS in September 2021.

See the video: The Role of Today’s CFO: Driving Change and Ensuring Resilience to Change

Whereas CFOs have traditionally had more of an administrative role, these days they’re much more involved in the strategic decision-making at the companies they serve.

“The CFO and those on the operations side have a much more critical say in terms of driving the 2.0 transformation,” Vallurupalli said. “In terms of data mapping, in terms of visualization, and in terms of how you can drive decisions quickly. And because we have that seat at the table, we’re better able to drive strategic decisions for the company that materially impact revenue.”

Facilitating Connections 

The role of the CFO is to facilitate connections in order to ensure that all team members — not just finance professionals — can complete their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible, eFileCabinet CFO Jason Wood told PYMNTS in February 2021.

Read more: To Drive Modernization, CFOs Embrace Role of Chief Collaborator

For instance, the need for all points of the order-to-cash cycle to connect seamlessly signals the need for multiple departments to work together on a single workflow, from the sales team to the accounts receivable department.

“CFOs need to make sure they have data that has meaning tied to the company’s goals and objectives, and it needs to be as cleanly accessible as can be,” Wood said. “They can’t do that unless you’re managing systems and tools correctly from a company-wide perspective.”

Providing Context to Stakeholders, Teams 

As the CFO at Stack Overflow, Matthew Gallatin oversees financial operations for the knowledge-sharing platform. He’s also committed to communicating and exchanging information with others inside and outside the organization, Gallatin told PYMNTS in June.

See also: Voice of the CFO: CFOs Take On Role as Efficiency Advisers, Help Connect Remote Teams, Stakeholders

“The thing I try to spend the most time on is understanding the issue, providing context to my stakeholders, providing context to my team, so that they can do their job more effectively and I can be a resource to them in doing that.”

For example, because Stack Overflow aims to be competitive in any market where it’s hiring, the team researches the bands of compensation for different roles in different markets.

“We partner pretty closely with our [human resources] team to constantly refine those so that we as service providers can deliver to our hiring managers the right information,” Gallatin said.

Collaborating With Peers 

Where once CFOs were scorekeepers who would close the books, they now engage with the operational side of the business, Onbe CFO Brian Levin told PYMNTS in January.

Watch the video: CFOs Move Beyond ‘Bean Counting’ to Collaboration, Efficiency

By forging deeper connections with other parts of the business, CFOs can leverage the insights from the massive amounts of data their teams accumulate to inform change-the-business strategies.

“It’s engaging with the other peers in the organization to make sure that not only are we giving them the data they need to be more efficient, but how can we collaborate with them to be more efficient?” Levin said.