CFO’s: 3 Things Your CEO Wants from You


So, you are trying to make it to the top accounting and finance job, CFO, and you’ve been told repeatedly that you need to operate in a different way than you have in the past. You now need to be part of the executive team as the finance voice of reason and as the person who helps decide on strategy. As Toronto recruiters for accountants and finance professionals, the team at Clarity have seen many people make the jump successfully to the top finance role. After speaking with CEO’s of several different companies and asking them what they want from their CFO’s we wanted to communicate the following three expectations:

1. They expect for you to be a trusted advisor to the CEO and executive team. This is the most important part of the CFO’s role. You often have CEO’s where finance is not their strength and they need help to ensure that the vision and direction they are executing on is the correct one. You work with them to understand the impact that the business decisions are going to have on all key business measurements. You help them to develop a more well-rounded and rational view of the business.

They expect for you to be a trusted advisor to the CEO and executive team.

2. The CEO wants you to push back so don’t be afraid. As the CFO you can’t be too complacent in agreeing and you absolutely have to have the courage to express your views. A CFO has to articulate and quantify the risk of decisions being considered and not buckle under pressure from strong CEO personalities.

The CEO wants you to push back so don’t be afraid.

3. Don’t get stuck in the weeds. Most CEO’s will readily admit that they can’t deal with too much detail – they don’t operate at that level and trying to pull them too deep into the small things will frustrate them. Trish Barbato, SVP Home Health & Business Development of Revera living states, “As a finance person, you have to translate financial information into a story that is readily digested and acted on. Your CEO doesn’t need all the detail so don’t feel compelled to offer it.” Each of the CEO’s that we chatted with have said that this is an area that most people should work hard to improve in.

Don’t get stuck in the weeds.

To be considered a strong candidate for CFO, you must instil these three expectations into your work ethic and communication. The CFO is ultimately the backbone to the CEO. Therefore, you must guide your CEO in the correct direction with well-rounded views, assertiveness and big-picture actions. If you begin to insert these rules with your existing talents you will experience respect and your goal of having a top finance job.

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