CFOs Take the Baton in Strategy Orchestration

Successfully steering a business toward strategic growth requires a steady hand. 

And in today’s business landscape, where change is constant and innovation is key, the role of the chief financial officer (CFO) has evolved to include not just that steady hand, but a keen eye, too. 

Gone are the days when financial decisions were made in isolation from broader organizational goals. Modern CFOs strive to align financial budgets with company objectives, ensuring that every dollar spent contributes to the achievement of strategic goals. This integration requires a deep understanding of both financial metrics and the broader business landscape.

“Data is the foundation. I have a soft spot in my heart for not just business intelligence in general, but data quality in particular,” Jeff Bray, CFO at Semperis, told PYMNTS for the “Day In The Life Of A CFO series. 

With access to robust financial and sales data, CFOs can identify trends, analyze performance, and make informed investments.

But, as Bray explained, all the data in the world means nothing if it can’t be effectively socialized, or if it is unstructured and poor quality. 

“All that stuff only works well if we’re collaborating across the teams, working closely with other leaders to ensure that not only are our forecasts going well, but also to make future decisions on where to invest,” he said. 

And where a business spends its money is one of — if not the greatest — determiners of its growth strategy and road map. That’s why ensuring that each department’s individual efforts all ladder up toward common business objectives is crucial for financial leaders seeking to enhance organizational cohesion and efficiency.

Driving Growth Through Financial Strategy

“I’ve always tried to integrate the whole financial planning process with the strategic planning of the company, making sure that they are integrated and optimized to work together in the best way … the financial budget needs to be working toward the company’s goals in a very explicit way,” Bray explained. 

“The CFO can be the ideal orchestrator of making sure different teams are aligned, and not just from a financial perspective, but to help the company achieve its goals,” he added.

After all, no longer confined to traditional financial duties, today’s CFOs are strategic leaders who increasingly play a crucial role in shaping the long-term direction of their organizations.

“The number one thing for companies that can continue to grow at high rates for extended periods of time is having a set of explicit goals that everyone is working toward. … You need to have people aligned and focused on what your larger, corporate goals are,” Bray said.

And in the quest for strategic alignment, CFOs are turning to data analytics and digital innovations to support their changing responsibilities and optimize workflows and processes. 

Role of Digital Innovation

Bray stressed that collaboration across departments, facilitated by accurate and reliable data, is key to the implementation of strategic initiatives.

“You want your forecast to be accurate, to have a marginal edge, and the best way for a forecast to be accurate is to have the best business context possible — both internally, so what different teams are trying to achieve, and externally, so understanding the external market forces that might impact the road map,” he explained. 

As leaders, CFOs face the challenge of prioritization. Bray emphasized the importance of prioritization, calling it “crucial” in a fast-paced environment where resources are finite, and distractions plentiful. Effective leadership involves not only setting goals but also empowering teams to make decisions and allocate resources strategically.

And that carries over to investing in and embracing next-generation solutions, like automation tools and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven analytics that enable finance teams to streamline processes, enhance accuracy, and scale operations efficiently.

“We need to be able to scale without growing the team as fast as we’re growing the company. Adding automations, in particular to closed processes, is a big part of that,” Bray said. 

He underscored the need for CFOs to adapt to change continually. In a rapidly evolving business landscape, agility is essential. Whether it’s embracing new technologies, navigating market shifts, or responding to competitive threats, CFOs must remain flexible and forward-thinking.

By staying attuned to industry trends and leveraging emerging opportunities, finance leaders can position their organizations for sustained success, Bray said.