All of us know CFOs as the fiscal officer who oversees the company’s books and accounts. But the emerging role of the CFO is to ensure that the company’s purpose is at the center of business strategy and ensures the company’s strategy is guided by a business-first perspective.

A successful CFO understands and embraces the entire business while identifying opportunities and challenges in markets, technology, demographics, regulatory and societal changes, and the societal impact of new products and technologies. This requires understanding and aligning financial strategies with company strategy, says Gary McGaghey.

Connecting Business Strategy to Corporate Purpose

A core component of the CFO’s role is now facilitating and aligning business strategy with corporate purpose. The “business-to-business” approach can impact how the CFO can lead the evolution of the C-suite. For example, there are ways that corporations can prioritize resources to take advantage of new opportunities and “pick the pockets” of current competitors through a combination of mergers and acquisitions, cutting costs, emerging markets, lean manufacturing, process improvement, and other innovative approaches. These can help sustain or create revenue streams and drive corporate profit in the long term. The CFO role isn’t restricted to focusing solely on balance sheets and investment decisions.

What Does the CFO Do?

According to Gary McGaghey, the most recognizable role has typically been the same for decades—to provide the most accurate financial information possible to the company’s leadership team. Today, very few CFOs still do this in their traditional role. A majority of today’s CFOs and finance leaders are now responsible for overall business strategy and financial reporting. They integrate key performance indicators and an integrated company-wide perspective into their decision-making and allow them to stay informed of and influential in these metrics. A CFO who looks only at financial metrics may miss a crucial connection between financial information and a company’s business strategy.

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The Role of the CFO in Business

While the role of the CFO remains somewhat static, the roles of the CFO are evolving with their organizations. According to a Deloitte study in 2010, 66 percent of CFOs reported that their organizations’ core values are about building a lasting corporate reputation. In the years since senior leaders have been held accountable for financial results and increasingly seek to prove their leadership credentials. Gary McGaghey: But with changing business environment, companies are looking for more than just financial predictability to deliver growth. They’re also looking for personal and professional value drivers such as purpose, performance, and leadership.

Gary McGaghey has worked with some of the world’s leading businesses, including major airlines, pharmaceuticals, energy companies, and more. Gary’s experience in delivering successful outcomes for clients helps ensure that their businesses are able to reach their full potential – from start-ups to multi-national corporations.