four faces cfo


Four Faces of the CFO

Finance strategy: Many plates, all spinning

Pressure is nothing new for CFOs, but today’s environment of constant volatility has raised the stakes for many.

CFOs are centre stage as they work to manage the challenges of business strategy, operations and control – all converging in a swirl of growing complexity. From regulatory scrutiny and shareholder activism to governance, growth and capital, CFOs have more to do, and more risks to manage, than ever. As you work to assess opportunities across all the different roles and responsibilities, considering our 'four faces' framework might be helpful in organising your thinking:

Steward: Helping to protect and preserve the assets of the organisation.

Operator: Balancing capabilities, costs and service levels to fulfill the finance organisation’s responsibilities.

Strategist: Providing financial leadership in determining strategic business direction and aligning financial strategies.

Catalyst: Stimulating behaviours across the organisation to achieve strategic and financial objectives.

There’s clear overlap among some of these roles, but the CFOs we work with seem to find real value in breaking them apart. That could be a good next step in getting your next big project organised and under control. 

four faces cfo finance

How we can help

Deloitte’s approach to providing Finance strategy related services is grounded in deep experience with all aspects of the finance function. No other firm matches our access to capabilities across accounting, tax, risk, financial advisory, strategy, technology and human capital services. These capabilities give us the ability to help CFOs see what others cannot – and help those who seek to create the most value possible through their finance organisations. Our Finance strategy assessment services are designed to help organisations in their efforts to:

  • Assess their current finance function performance and capabilities
  • Define a finance vision and role
  • Define a target operating model
  • Identify change initiatives and develop a roadmap and business case.

Bottom-line benefits

Organisations that take a comprehensive approach to finance strategy can better position themselves to:

  • Improve their financial reliability and predictability
  • Lower overall costs in finance
  • Improve information quality for better, faster decision-making
  • Adopt an investor value perspective into organizational performance management.

Four ways to create more value

We’ve helped some of the world’s leading CFOs and their finance organisations in their efforts to improve their overall performance and deliver more business value. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way.

Embrace the complexity: Make sure you understand the four roles completely – and how finance resources (as well as your own personal time) should be deployed to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

Make sure you have the right people: Even when you get great at managing all four CFO roles, you’ll still be facing tensions among them – especially when it comes to having the right people in place to deliver against higher expectations. That’s the nature of the beast.

Break challenges down into manageable steps across people, processes and technology: Identify the challenges that are critical to fulfilling each of the four roles, as well as the broader mission of finance. Pay special attention to execution and change management. Many organisations falter not because they don’t have a clear vision, but because they don’t drive all the way through the finish line.

Focus on value drivers: Understand exactly how and where finance drives value in the organisation – and where the gaps exist. Determine which gaps to fill first and recognise the pitfalls of getting the sequence wrong. 

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