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CFOs Serving as Operating Partners Can Further Company Success

Posted by Andy Kahn on Thu, Mar 2, 2017

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CFO_Advisory_Services_logo-version2_2.pngSome CFOs serve as their companies’ directors of operations or administration. But even if administration or operations aren’t your official duties, they’re still areas where CFOs can add value to their companies.

Previously, we talked about the benefits of CFOs participating in strategic planning. But there are significant benefits to actively participating in your company’s daily operations as well.

Attendees to The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network conference earlier this year officially recommended CFOs serve as operating partners.

“CFO(s) shouldn’t just keep divisions/teams accountable for meeting the budget, but also help them meet their goals,” the network attendees said. “The budget becomes the starting point for the CFO to play a significant role in operational execution.”

Former Kimberly-Clark CFO Mark Buthman was big on this idea. He ran a multi-year initiative at the paper products company he penned “The Power of a CFO.”

“It’s about setting an expectation that every individual in my organization around the world comes to work every day thinking like a CFO,” he said an interview with CFO.com.

Buthman believes everything an employee does should accomplish one of three goals: building talent, driving results or growing the company’s capabilities.

“We call that inspire, drive and transform,” he said to CFO.com. “The Power of a CFO aims to get those three things into every objective that every single person in my organization has, and to give our teams the freedom and empowerment to go after results.”

New Call-to-actionAccording to Buthman’s Power of a CFO initiative, employees can operate like a CFO by:

  • Delivering insight, not data
  • Operating end to end
  • Questioning, challenging and taking smart risks
  • Building a high-performing team
  • Championing innovation and breakthrough solutions
  • Making tough decisions
  • Stepping forward to lead


While Buthman first initiated his Power of the CFO in Kimberly-Clark’s finance department, he later altered it for other departments. He advised marketing employees to think like the CMO, for procurement employees to think like the CPO and for IT employees to think like the CIO.

READ MORE: 7 Key Questions a Strategic Thinking CFO Should Consider

CFOs are valued as operations directors due to their firm grasp of finance fundamentals and their management strengths. CFOs also make effective project managers because they’re highly detailed oriented.

“It has become less and less just about the numbers and really about being a true partner to the various functional leaders within an organization,” Nick Leopard, founder and CEO of financial consulting firm Accordion Partners, said in an interview with PitchBook.com. “They know they need to stand out from the crowd from the operational improvement perspective.”

With a heavy burden on the CFO to bring value, it is wise to work closely with an outside CPA advisor. A good CPA partner will help to bring analysis and perspective to critical financial functions and enable the CFO to strategically manage multiple areas of focus.

Since the 1920s, Concannon Miller has been working with CFOs to help their businesses grow and is the proud sponsor of the Lehigh Valley Business CFO of the Year Awards. Seeking more advice on how to improve your company’s finances? Contact us here.

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Topics: Business consulting, CFO Advisory Services

Concannon Miller’s unique, holistic and intimate approach to financial health sets us apart from smaller CPA firms with more limited resources as well as mega firms where mid-sized clients struggle for attention. Contact us here to talk about improving your business.

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