The evolution of the CPA as CFO


DNA is the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all living organisms and the chain of our evolutionary progress.

As I read the latest research from E&Y titled, The DNA of a CFO, what makes a Chief Financial Officer, I was reminded of the work from the CPA Vision 2011 and proud to see some major evolutionary progress.

So what is in the DNA of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and why do I think we have made progress?

 The "DNA" shows major progress into the movement from scorekeeper to strategic partner. The report declares this progress as  follows,

"We see a group of people whose unique optic on the business has rightly earned them promotion to the forefront. A group who are embracing their increasingly strategic remit. And, a group who see their career choice as one to be celebrated — not a staging post to the role of CEO."

The report describes the "essential ingredients of a leading CFO as:

  • First and foremost an extremely good finance professional
  • A strong commercial sensibility
  • Deep understanding of the business
  • Good with people
  • Able to think strategically
  • Excellent communication skills — the ability to translate complex issues in a simple, straightforward way
  • Able to manage conflict well
  • A problem solver, not creator
  • International experience
  • Language skills
  • Experience of running major projects
  • A business analyst
  • Able to manage stress and complexity under pressure
  • Good health
  • Operational experience
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Experience of adversity
  • Passion

Compare that to the CPA Vision purpose of  "CPAs...making sense of a changing and complex world" and the future vision of

"CPAs are the trusted professionals who enable people and organizations to shape their future. Combining insight with integrity, CPAs deliver value by:

  1.  Communicating the total picture with clarity and objectivity
  2. Translating complex information into critical knowledge
  3. Anticipating and creating opportunities
  4. Designing pathways that transform vision into reality"

I see some major evolution going on as CPAs in the CFO role have moved to focusing on bean growing and not just bean counting, strategy and growth and not just controlling costs, managing risks and not just saying "no". The CPA adds the element of trust and integrity to the DNA of the CFO and that really does "complete" the Vision story - Combining insight with integrity, CPAs deliver value... that transforms vision (strategy) into reality.

Funny that we were just having this conversation last night with our Board member, Joselin Martin who heads up our Business & Industry Committee and is one of those "highly-evolved" CFOs.

Tell us what you think below in the comments or come out in person next week at our special town hall for Business, Industry, Government & Non-Profits and join the conversation.

Also, stay tuned for the update to CPA Vision 2011, the AICPA''s CPA Horizons 2025 Project launching in the next few weeks. We will be particpating at both the national and Maryland level (see our Future Forum schedule here)

What's in your DNA?  and is your CFO Certified (See our blog post by same name with some great resources and whitepapers on the subject)?