Every CFO brings a unique skill set to the table, but four underlying archetypes describe managerial and financial styles. Knowing which type of CFO you are – and just as crucially, what kind your organization needs – will help you highlight your strengths and meet your challenges head-on. See which profile suits you, and you’ll have a better handle on how you fit into your organization.
Most CFOs have a fair amount of expertise in their role, but you know every aspect of the job completely. From maintaining the general ledger to handling payroll to financial planning, audits and analysis, you’ve done it all. You probably started with the firm years ago as an assistant and have worked your way up, or perhaps you came from a different company that trained you. Your detailed knowledge is probably backed up with at least one advanced degree in accounting, economics, or business administration. Highly detail-oriented and capable, you’re ideally suited to a company that expects you to handle a wide variety of tasks. Because you have both the breadth and depth of knowledge to keep your company’s financial future secure, you work best with a high degree of autonomy. Being micro-managed isn’t your style, and until you arrive at the top of a larger organization, you may feel under-utilized in local or regional branches.
The Jack – or Jill – of All Trades
You have the wide range of experience that the Expert has, but to get it, you’ve worked in a variety of fields, and not always in accounting. You may have run your own small business before being folded into a larger company when you decided to sell, or you might have arrived at your career in finance after a few years of learning in other roles. You’re an operational whiz who can fill any role within the company, and your unique career experiences make you a master strategist. You’ve probably learned to be an excellent communicator, a meta-skill you acquired from years of changing roles and shifting perspectives. Chances are good you have a strong competitive streak and challenge yourself to excel almost as much as you enjoy a victory over your organization’s competition. Your ideal fit is a company that values your wide-ranging skills and rewards your loyalty. Bonus: You might be groomed for a role as CEO when current management retires.
The Proven Performer
Your greatest point of pride is your track record. Whether you’re a veteran of multiple successful turnarounds or are still starting your career as a renowned rescuer of at-risk organizations, you excel at cost management, balancing books, compliance, and forensic accounting. You bring order to chaos, developing standards and metrics that transform scatter-shot financial records into textbook examples of accounting elegance. If you’re like most Proven Performers, you’ve come in from outside, and you’ve been hired because your reputation as a fixer is outstanding. Your perfect fit in the short term is a company that needs you; you feel most valued when you spin straw into gold. In the long run, though, constant crises can wear on even the steadiest nerves, and that’s when it’s time to find a highly diversified company that still makes good use of your rigorous organizational skills without expecting you to apply them to a crisis.
The Growth Specialist
You’re the financial equivalent of a green-thumbed gardener, but you grow profits instead of prize-winning roses. You’ve probably come from outside the company, but you might also have come from within; an organization in its growth phase sometimes finds brilliance waiting within the ranks. A master of mergers and acquisitions, you prepare your organization to launch itself to the next level. An independent thinker with a strategic skill set that’s the equal of your meticulous attention to detail, you thrive in high-pressure situations and relish turning small companies into big multi-national firms.