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Our CFO program

What it means for the CFO to excel

We believe these six segments cover the core elements of the CFO's role. Explore these to access insights relevant to each.

  1. Trusting the numbers
  2. Providing insight
  3. Getting your house in order
  4. Funding organizational strategy
  5. Developing business strategy
  6. Communicating to the external marketplace

Our program seeks to provide insight and guidance on aspects of interest to CFOs, and future finance leaders, as they seek to develop themselves, their teams and learn from others within their community.

1 Ensuring decisions are grounded in sound financial criteria

CFO competencies

Core skills

  • Taking a commercial view in partnership with the business
  • Identifying commercial, financial and economic risks from business propositions
  • Establishing profitability of business propositions
  • Providing robust but constructive challenge to business stakeholders
  • Communicating clearly the financial implications of proposals

Core knowledge

  • Knowledge of the organization's business
  • Detailed knowledge of products/service lines
  • Awareness of the market and commercial environment
  • Knowledge of investment appraisal
  • Knowledge around approaches to profitability analysis

Key experiences

  • Business case appraisal
  • Benefits tracking and realization
  • Experience in pricing and profitability analysis
  • Cost management
  • Planning and forecasting

Key relationships

  • Chief Executive Officer/Chief Operating Officer
  • Business unit heads
  • Heads of key support functions: Risk, IT, Operations, HR, Marketing and Sales
  • Finance business partners
  • Audit Committee
Related insights
EY - Seizing the opportunity - The CFO perspective Seizing the opportunity - The CFO perspective
Companies must modernize their global compliance and reporting processes to provide greater efficiency, control and value. How can Chief Financial Officers help?
EY - What lies beneath? The hidden costs of entering rapid-growth markets What lies beneath? The hidden costs of entering rapid-growth markets
The opportunities in rapid-growth markets are undeniable. So too are the risks. Where others see primarily opportunity, the CFO must spot complexity — the costs both manifest and hidden.

The CFO's role:

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2 Providing insight and analysis to support senior managers

CFO competencies

Core skills

  • Communicating financial information effectively
  • Assessing drivers of profitability
  • Identifying and communicating areas of risk
  • Forecasting future performance based on knowledge of past performance
  • Identifying corrective action where required

Core knowledge

  • Knowledge of the organization's business
  • Detailed knowledge of products/service lines
  • Awareness of market trends, risks and issues
  • Knowledge of key performance indicators (KPIs) in relation to the strategic plan
  • Business performance management
  • Knowledge of competition performance

Key experiences

  • Financial planning and reporting
  • Accounting and reporting for projects and other non-recurring initiatives
  • Experience in identifying non-financial drivers of financial performance
  • Experience of identifying issues and corrective actions
  • Operating at executive level
  • Markets trends analysis

Key relationships

  • Chief Executive Officer/Chief Operating Officer
  • Business unit heads
  • Heads of key support functions: Risk, IT, Operations, HR, Marketing and Sales
  • Finance business partners
  • Strategy Director
  • Corporate Development Officer
Related insights
EY - CFO and beyond - Possibilities and pathways outside finance CFO and beyond - Possibilities and pathways outside finance
Appetite for CFO experience on boards is big and getting bigger. This study addresses the reasons why, and what it takes to make a successful non-executive director.
EY - Business Pulse - The CFO perspectiveBusiness Pulse - The CFO perspective
Our Business Pulse report identified and explored the top 10 risks and opportunities facing companies around the world.
EY - Business risks facing mining and metals Business risks facing mining and metals – The CFO perspective
As the mining and metals industry shifts its focus to margin quality rather than price-driven volume growth, CFOs need to manage increasing risks and balance divergent stakeholder demands, while maximizing returns.

The CFO's role:

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3 Getting your house in order

CFO competencies

Core skills

  • Leadership skills to drive change in finance
  • Setting and communicating the vision and strategy for finance
  • Engaging with business stakeholders to determine the appropriate role for finance
  • Bringing together disparate stakeholders within finance and the business
  • Sponsoring delivery of major change in the finance function

Core knowledge

  • How finance should be organized to deliver value to the business
  • Finance processes and implications for the operating model
  • The components of the finance operating model and the interdependencies
  • Finance systems and implications for change
  • Drivers of cost and value in finance

Key experiences

  • Delivery of major change in finance
  • Finance process improvement
  • Designing changes to finance operating models
  • Involvement with delivery of finance systems
  • Engaging with internal customers around service delivery transformation

Key relationships

  • Chief executive officer
  • Business unit heads
  • Heads of key support functions: IT, Marketing, Risk, Operations, HR
  • Senior finance managers
  • Business unit finance teams
Related insights
EY - Finance forte: the future of finance leadership Finance forte: the future of finance leadership
A study of the future of the Group CFO role and what candidates, incumbents and the board need to do to keep up.
EY - Mining and metals tax survey Mining and metals tax survey – The CFO perspective
As an increasing proportion of total cost in the mining and metals sector, tax is becoming a strategic driver of business decisions.

The CFO's role:

close

4 Funding, enabling and executing strategy

CFO competencies

Core skills

  • Funding the organization's operations
  • Prioritizing investments
  • Developing strategic plans to achieve corporate goals
  • Understanding the key value drivers
  • Turning strategic plans into operational plans and targets (including defining KPIs)
  • Designing the implementation program
  • Monitoring progress against strategy

Core knowledge

  • Capital management
  • Project financing
  • Financial risk management
  • Operational risk management
  • Strategic and operational planning
  • Performance management systems
  • Program management
  • Change management

Key experiences

  • Involvement in determining funding requirements
  • Securing funding for operations and major projects
  • Management of working capital
  • Implementing financial risk management strategy, e.g., interest rate, foreign exchange and market risk
  • Developing strategic plans
  • Managing large and complex improvement/change programs
  • Managing a merger or acquisition

Key relationships

  • Chief executive officer/chief operating officer
  • Business unit heads
  • Risk director
  • Operations director
  • External funding providers
  • Key investors
  • Treasurer
Related insights
EY - Drought or drowning? Cash challenges for CFOs Drought or drowning? Cash challenges for CFOs
Many companies are struggling to maintain liquidity. Others are stockpiling cash like never before. CFOs are facing new strategic and operational challenges.
EY - M and A and capital raising in mining and metals: the CFO perspective M&A and capital raising in mining & metals: the CFO perspective
Four priorities for CFOs in mining & metals. Our survey looks at M&A and capital raising in the industry in 2013.

The CFO's role:

close

5 Developing and defining organizational strategy

CFO competencies

Core skills

  • Translating corporate goals into a clear strategy
  • Identifying financial and risk issues in relation to corporate strategy
  • Delivering a workable strategic plan within known constraints
  • Thinking creatively/conceptually strong
  • Analyzing portfolio of opportunities
  • Visionary/story-teller ability to build trust and motivate people
  • Effectively communicating financial and risk issues to C-suite colleagues
  • Providing robust financial challenge at C-suite level

Core knowledge

  • Strategic and operational planning
  • Knowledge of the organization's business
  • Detailed knowledge of products/service lines
  • Business model design
  • Scenario planning
  • Good overview of the industry structure and challenges
  • Strategic frameworks and theory
  • Awareness of the market and commercial environment
  • Aware of industry and organization risk profile
  • Awareness of IT as an important business enabler

Key experiences

  • Strategy development
  • Development and implementation of business plans
  • Monitoring achievement of plans and targets and taking corrective actions where required
  • Operational and financial risk management
  • Product and market development

Key relationships

  • Chief executive officer
  • Chief operating officer
  • Business unit heads
  • Chief information officer
  • Risk director
  • Marketing director
  • HR director
  • Strategy director
  • Corporate development officer
Related insights
EY - The DNA of the CFO: a study of what makes a chief financial officer The DNA of the CFO: a study of what makes a chief financial officer
This study provides insight into what it is to be a CFO today, exploring their aspirations, relationships and what makes them unique.
EY - Shifting up a gear: from corporate finance to corporate strategy Shifting up a gear: from corporate finance to corporate strategy
How are finance executives creating value in their organisations, how are they measuring personal performance, and what stops them being effective? Find out here in The DNA of the CFO.
EY - Views. Vision. Insights. The evolving role of today's CFO Views. Vision. Insights. The evolving role of today's CFO
CFOs’ involvement in their businesses is broad, their contributions to their organizations are manifold and the scope of their responsibilities is growing.

The CFO's role:

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6 Representing the organization to external stakeholders

CFO competencies

Core skills

  • Clearly communicating performance
  • Providing perspectives on performance relative to main competitors
  • Understanding main value drivers/key KPIs and initiatives to improve them
  • Communicating positively about management of key risks
  • Taking a forward looking view
  • Anticipating and responding to questions from media, analysts and investor community
  • Responding positively to issues raised by industry regulators

Core knowledge

  • The organization's business and its industry
  • The organization's products/service lines
  • The market and commercial environment
  • The impact of local, regional and global economies on financial performance
  • Technical accounting to supervise financial statements

Key experiences

  • Preparing financial information for external publication and communication to the capital markets
  • Dealing with parties external to the organization
  • Engaging with media
  • Managing relationships with external auditors
  • Managing resolution of key accounting and control issues

Key relationships

  • Chief executive officer
  • Chairman
  • Executive and non-executive boards
  • Other key governance committees (e.g., audit, remuneration)
  • External auditors
  • Media and investor relations
  • Regulators
Related insights
EY - A tale of two markets: telling the story of investment across developed and rapid-growth markets A tale of two markets: telling the story of investment across developed and rapid-growth markets
How do you tell a tale of two markets? This report explores the role of the CFO in balancing investments across developed and rapid-growth markets and the way in which the CFO communicates this balance to investors.
EY - Back seat or center stage? CFOs and the media Back seat or center stage? CFOs and the media
Media engagement beyond financial reporting and print media – the reported comfort zone of CFOs – is likely to be an increasing reality for a growing number of finance leaders. This report addresses the CFO's role in relation to the media.

The CFO's role:

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The CFO of today

EY - The CFO of today

The DNA of the CFO: a study of what makes a chief financial officer

This study, based on finance leaders in Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa, provides insight into what it is to be a CFO today, exploring their aspirations, relationships and what makes them unique.

The average CFO

  • Male, aged 42 years and eight months
  • Considers five years and 10 months to be the appropriate tenure
  • Highly educated with a finance degree, MBA or chartered accountancy qualification
EY - CFO: staging post or career destination CFO: staging post or career destination?

Explore the full report or get the highlights by downloading our At a glance guide.

Also available:


The CFO perspective


Performing as a CFO

EY - Performing as a CFO

The Master CFO Collection

A collection of studies on particular events and experiences that CFOs encounter as part of their role.

EY - CFO and the supply chainCFO and the supply chain

CFOs can be isolated in business, but when they partner with supply chain leaders, businesses can grow. Find out how.
View online or download the At a glance guide.

EY - Drought or drowning?Drought or drowning?

Many companies are struggling to maintain liquidity. Others are stockpiling cash like never before. CFOs are facing new strategic and operational challenges. We explore strategies to tackle them.
View online or download the At a glance guide.

EY - A tale of two marketsA tale of two markets

How do you tell a tale of two markets? This report explores the role of the CFO in balancing investments across developed and rapid-growth markets and the way in which the CFO communicates this balance to investors.
View online or download the At a glance guide.

EY - What lies beneath?What lies beneath?

The opportunities in rapid-growth markets are undeniable. So too are the risks. Where others see primarily opportunity, the CFO must spot complexity – the costs both manifest and hidden.
View online or download the At a glance guide.

EY - Back seat or center stage?Back seat or center stage?

Media engagement beyond financial reporting and print media – the reported comfort zone of CFOs – is likely to be an increasing reality for a growing number of finance leaders. This report addresses the CFO's role in relation to the media.
View online or download the At a glance guide.

The CFO of tomorrow

EY - The CFO of tomorrow

CFO and beyond

Appetite for CFO experience on boards is big and getting bigger. This study addresses the reasons why, and what it takes to make a successful non-executive director.

EY - Proportion of serving CFOs at the largest companies with non-executive roles in 2002 and 2012 Proportion of serving CFOs at the largest companies with non-executive roles in 2002 and 2012
EY - Last executive role for the CFO class of 2002 Last executive role for the CFO class of 2002

Explore the full report or get the highlights by downloading our At a glance guide.

Finance forte: the future of finance leadership

A study of the future of the Group CFO role and what candidates, incumbents and the board need to do to keep up.

EY - Stepping stones of the EMEIA top 100 Stepping stones of the EMEIA top 100
EY - Routes to the top: career paths of the EMEIA top 100 Routes to the top: career paths of the EMEIA top 100

Explore the full report or get the highlights by downloading our At a glance guide.


What role do you aspire to as the next step in your career?

EY - What role do you aspire to as the next step in your career?

Shown: Percentage of respondents to The DNA of the CFO survey
Base: All respondents (669 CFOs across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa)

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Career paths for the EMEIA top 100

EY - Career paths for the EMEIA top 100

Role before moving to the Group CFO position.
EMEIA CFOs of Fortune 500 companies.

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Stepping stones of the EMEIA top 100

EY - Stepping stones of the EMEIA top 100

The most popular route to the Group CFO position at EMEIA companies in the Fortune 500 is highlighted in bold above.

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Proportion of serving CFOs at the largest companies with non-executive roles in 2002 and 2012

EY - Proportion of serving CFOs at the largest companies with non-executive roles in 2002 and 2012

*Breakdown includes the top four most popular types of non-executive director roles. Others include risk committee and policy committee.
Source: desktop research into 347 large-company CFOs.

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Last executive role for the CFO class of 2002

EY - Last executive role for the CFO class of 2002

Source: desktop research into 347 large-company CFOs.

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