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Good to Great: How to Scale With an Outsourced CFO

Small to medium-sized businesses reach a point in their growth where access to the skills and talents of an experienced Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is required.  The question they often have? Is there enough work to warrant a full-time CFO? The answer is yes.....

Strategy, Growth, CFO - 4 min read

Big things are expected from modern CFOs. Gone are the days when CFOs assumed the position of "chief accountant" at a company. Sure, today's CFOs understand numbers and produce reliable reports, but their role has expanded appreciably.

What should we expect from this new breed of chief financial officers? Instead of posting a job description, we'll look at the new skillsets of today's financial executives. Some of these skills are old news, and some are leading Australian companies into the future.

“New Breed” CFO Skills

Heightened Commercial Literacy

The new breed of CFO reports and presents results in a more accessible and concentrated way. Instead of just producing balance sheets, they serve as educators, helping other board members develop their financial acumen and giving them the tools to make critical decisions.

Recent trends and technologies have enhanced transparency, but stakeholders don't always know what to do with the data. The CFO interprets it and teaches team members how to use it effectively.

A Focus on Profitability

In the past, CFOs tended to wrap up historic data, always making sure the last month or quarter was reported correctly, dotting i's and crossing t's. But today's CFOs play a more proactive role when it comes to profitability.

With a vigilant eye on both the business and the markets, CFOs are strategically positioned to optimise profitable areas of the organisation. The CFO, with financial tools and big data, can provide guideposts to improved profitability.

An Eye on the (Right) Size

During the COVID-19 crisis, many businesses had to rightsize in response to closures, regulations and market changes. But it doesn't take a pandemic to show business owners the need for scaling.

CFOs can envision an organisation's optimum size and shape, making recommendations about investing in certain areas and scaling back where necessary.

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New and Emerging Markets Savvy

Despite its devastating economic fallout, the 2008 financial crisis catalysed innovation and market disruptions. Because people had limited cash on hand, businesses looked for ways to cater to customers' new situations. Uber and Airbnb were born in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and ever since then, travellers have enjoyed affordable accommodation and transportation using new technologies.

It's no different with COVID. Markets and customer needs changed dramatically, and CFOs can provide a sound understanding of potential opportunities and risks. With thoughtful business planning and a thorough awareness of the commercial implications, your business can thrive in today's new and emerging markets.

Keen Acquisition Strategy

Another forward-looking growth strategy is acquiring businesses that add practical value to your enterprise. The new breed of CFO specialises in such activities, bringing a sharp eye to future designs.

Why Has the Role of CFO Changed?

At this point, disruptive technologies have entered the mass adoption phase, and businesses strive to drive growth, not just cut costs. And because of increased transparency and consumer sophistication, customers now behave in fundamentally different ways. These changes impact business processes of all kinds.

It's a busy and exciting time for Australian businesses, and this new world calls for a different type of financial leadership. Enter "the new breed of CFO" armed with the skill sets mentioned above.

The Fundamentals Remain the Same

Despite all the differences exhibited by the new breed of CFO, financial executives still base their work on traditional, critical foundations. When it comes to balance sheets and debt repayments, the buck still stops with them. CFOs still manage the substantial work of reporting and forecasting, so stakeholders have accurate information. Also, the need for simplicity and cost-effectiveness in finance operations will never disappear, even if the methods for achieving them may change.

The new CFOs typically embrace flexibility and scalability. They resemble well-rounded entrepreneurs who are willing to customise finance departments while they adopt global best practices. 

Whether you need cash flow management and reporting help or cutting-edge technology solutions and acquisitions advice, we're here to help you with CFO services. To learn more or set up a consultation with one of our advisers, reach out to us at Altus.

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