Read the previous installments in this series below:
Part 1: Introduction and Background
Part 2: CFO Demographics
Part 3: CFO Churn and Risk Aversion
Part 4: The Modern CFO in the Mirror
Part 5: Half Accountant, Half Strategists: The CFO as Storyteller
As we've mentioned previously (courtesy of our parent company's collaboration with Brian Sommer, a CFO-targeting expert and former Accenture partner), CFOs absolutely live for the opportunity to be strategic given the great majority of their role is anything but (i.e., CFOs are supposed to keep companies out of trouble). Yet to advance in their careers, they must turn toward broader corporate opportunities. The ultimate reason for this interest in corporate strategy is that most CFOs covet the CEO position with hopes of rising to it internally (from promotion) or being recruited into the role at an outside firm.
The advantage CFOs typically have other others in this career progression (compared to CPOs, CIOs, etc.) is that their access to the board gives them great visibility. Boards are connected and can make things happen. Yet for CFOs to truly impress a board to a degree where they'll be viewed as anything other than the company warden and keeper of the books, they'll need ideas in the form of constant ammunition to invest in new programs. This is why better CFOs know that having and nurturing a thirst for knowledge, insight and data that will make them shine in front of the board.
As Brian likes to observe, if they can't get their firm's CEO slot, they desire the role in a competitor's company (or a non-competitive company). For this reason, CFOs like to speak at very senior events with top Wall Street players, board members and CEOs in attendance. They accept invitations to a small number of A-list events annually. If you can guarantee that they'll rub shoulders (i.e., network) with the right folks, they'll attend.
Since we're not in the business of getting CFOs to events but rather influencing how to invest in the right type of procurement-focused initiatives, the next best strategy is to tap into an effective means of selling them on ideas (including how to present them in an optimal manner). Of course there are mistakes to avoid as well in building a business case or attempting to sell an idea (or an actual product/solution/service) to CFOs, which we'll tackle in the next installment in this series.