18 January 2024 CJPI Insights People Strategy

What Are The Top Qualities of a Great Finance Director or CFO?

The role of a Finance Director (FD) or Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has evolved far beyond crunching numbers and balancing spreadsheets. Today’s financial leaders are strategic partners, navigating complex environments and playing a pivotal role in driving businesses forward.

So, what leadership factors make a truly great FD or CFO stand out from the crowd?

1. Strategic Visionary

Gone are the days of the CFO solely focused on the rearview mirror of financial reports. Top performers see finance as a lens for the future, understanding its impact on every aspect of the business. They translate financial data into actionable insights, informing strategic decision-making, growth initiatives, and risk management.

2. Commercial Acumen

A deep understanding of the business landscape, industry trends, and competitive dynamics is crucial. Great FDs/CFOs speak the language of the business, not just accounting jargon. They anticipate challenges, identify opportunities, and champion sound financial practices that support overall business goals.

3. Communication Maestro

Financial information is meaningless in a vacuum. Great FDs/CFOs are master communicators, tailoring their message to different audiences. They present complex data in clear, concise, and compelling ways, engaging stakeholders and building trust through informed transparency.

4. Relationship Builder

Collaboration is key. Top FDs/CFOs develop strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders – colleagues, board members, investors, and regulators. They build trust, actively listen, and leverage diverse perspectives to make informed decisions and drive collective action.

5. Tech-Savvy Leader

Financial technology is rapidly evolving. Great FDs/CFOs embrace innovation, understanding how technology can streamline processes, enhance financial modelling, and generate deeper insights. They champion digital transformation within the finance function and across the organisation.

6. Team Builder and Mentor

Building a high-performing finance team is essential. Top FDs/CFOs invest in their team’s development, building a culture of continuous learning and professional growth. They empower their team, delegate effectively, and celebrate achievements, creating a motivated and engaged finance function.

7. Resilient and Adaptable

Operating in a dynamic, often unpredictable environment demands resilience and adaptability. Great FDs/CFOs remain calm under pressure, think strategically in the face of uncertainty, and quickly adjust course when needed. They possess the mental agility to navigate change and lead with confidence.

8. Ethical Compass

Integrity and strong ethical principles are non-negotiable. Top FDs/CFOs uphold the highest standards of corporate governance, ensuring financial reporting accuracy, compliance with regulations, and responsible resource allocation. They lead by example empowering a culture of transparency and ethical conduct throughout the organisation.

Final Words

Being a great FD/CFO goes beyond technical expertise. It demands a unique blend of strategic thinking, business acumen, communication prowess, relationship building, tech-savviness, team leadership, and resilience, all balanced with ethical principles. These qualities combined enable FDs/CFOs to become true business partners, playing a critical role in shaping the organisation’s financial health and long-term success.

CJPI Insights

This post has been published by the CJPI Insights Editorial Team, compiling the best insights and research from our experts.

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