CFOs take centre stage

Times may be tough, but the upheaval of the last year has made it a good time to be a CFO...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

CFOs and FDs are playing a much more significant role within UK plc as a result of the last year, according to a new study. OK, so the research was done by ACCA, the accountancy trade body, so it’s got a vested interest in bigging up the bean-counters. But at a time when cash is tight, and firms have been desperately counting their pennies to stay ahead of the game, we can well believe that the men and women in charge of the purse strings have become increasingly influential in the boardroom…

ACCA has been talking to more than 450 CFOS worldwide about how their job has changed in the last 12 months, and the results make interesting reading (no seriously – bear with us). As you’d expect, the vast majority are feeling a lot more important than they were a year ago. But the good news is that their companies seem to agree with them: 70% said they were getting more backing in the boardroom than they were, while a similar proportion say that they’re playing a more active role in strategic planning. In the boom years they may have been seen as killjoys; in this new age of austerity, they’ve become the most important voice in the room.

This extra importance also seems to be giving CFOs the confidence to branch out into new areas: three-quarters are spending more time on internal communications, while 80% are playing a bigger role in risk management (arguably this is shutting the gate after the horse has bolted, in some cases, but admirable nevertheless). ‘Organisations are looking for CFOs to bring their knowledge to bear on the wider business,’ says ACCA’s veritably delighted chief exec Helen Brand. ‘We may well be witnessing a renaissance for the CFO, with their expertise extremely highly-valued and sought-after in these tough times.’

But it’s not just a case of CFOs getting more involved. Another consequence of recent events is that some companies are cutting out the middleman and appointing FDs to the CEO role. After all, if numbers are your biggest concern at the moment, it makes sense to have a numbers man/ woman in the top job. This month’s ever-timely MT includes a special report on CFOs who have made it into the corner office – featuring exclusive interviews with 3i’s Michael Queen, P2i’s Carl Francis, and the Eden Project’s Gaynor Coley. Read ‘FDs Take the Tiller’ online now.

So there’s at least one tranche of the management class that actually seems to have done rather well out of the downturn...

In today's bulletin:

Darling wades into bonus row - as trader loses £6m
Zut alors! Heat forces French power firms to buy British
Facebook woos Twitterati with new privacy settings
CFOs take centre stage
MT celebrates '35 Women Under 35' 2009

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