Knowing how well the organisation’s current talent pool can meet current and future business needs is a priority for most transitioning CFOs. New leaders should start regular assessments of their finance function’s skills and competencies as part of updating the talent plan and investing in the development of the team.

Keep these five recommendations in mind to assess current and potential talent:

  1. Align talent expectations with business objectives.
  2. Identify appropriate competencies to evaluate finance talent.
  3. Clearly articulate competencies.
  4. Identify proficiency and growth potential of current talent.
  5. Proactively account for possible skill shortages.


Assessing organisation structure

Even seasoned CFOs struggle with organising finance in a manner that is efficient and supports the value creation mandate. Finance organisations that are most successful choose their structures according to how the work is actually performed, rather than using standard templates. To help achieve this, new CFOs can consider the following:

  • Centralisation or decentralisation? Assess the models of finance service delivery, including COEs, Shared Services Organisations (SSOs), BU-aligned finance, and regionally aligned finance, based on objectives.
  • Outsourcing: When determining an outsourcing strategy, take into account factors like the contribution to competitive edge and impact on daily operational performance.
  • Structure of the finance subfunction: Identify and categorise subfunctions in terms of their scope, specialisation opportunities, responsiveness and agility, as well as customer experience.

Face problems and plan for the future

Update the roadmap and establish strategic vision

The new CFO should establish a vision that is clear and forward-looking for the role early on to help the team see where it’s going and what each individual will do to contribute to the team and the business. The team will lose focus if they don’t have a vision, because employees’ actions and mental energy may not match the ambitions of the new CFO. This can lead to a reduction in productivity.

The new CFO should also be clear on how to achieve the vision. Create a road map that mobilises the executive leadership and employee resources to support initiatives that drive execution.

A useful road map should at least address these four challenges:

  1. How can the finance function achieve its vision? Is the finance function in need of new skills?
  2. Does the current finance process and policies need to be changed to achieve your vision?
  3. Which IT changes are required to succeed? Is it necessary to eliminate data silos?
  4. Who are finance’s partners in business?


Identifying potential functional risks

To meet finance’s goals, it is important to identify and address risks as soon as possible. Although the risks that can affect a CFO’s vision are varied, these common ones should be kept in mind.

  • New business requirements
  • Budgets
  • Technological disruption
  • Risk and compliance


Measure Improvement

The new CFO must support this vision by setting aspirational, but realistic, performance targets and defining KPIs that will measure these. Set functional efficiency and effectiveness goals that will drive desired outcomes when they are executed effectively. 

Measurement is key to any CFO’s success, as unless you know how you were performing before you started, how can you gain recognition for the improvements you’ve made within the business.