9 simple things you can start doing TODAY to accelerate your CFO-readiness

By Andy Burrows

In this article I want to show that getting yourself ready to be a business-leading CFO one day is something that should start much much earlier than you think.

When people talk about leadership and business acumen in the context of what you need to be a CFO, you may think that implies you need almost grey hairs.

We picture leaders being the old, wise and mature people. It must have taken them years to learn to be leaders.

Business acumen, too, sounds like something you get from years of experience.

And my worry is that those misconceptions put off young Finance professionals from working intentionally on things that will help them to be CFO-ready.

Two of my own experiences should show that you don’t have to wait to start learning CFO skills.

First, I was appointed as a Finance Director at the age of 29. I’ve written about that elsewhere. So, you don’t need to be older to learn CFO skills and behaviours.

Second, one of the most memorable courses I...

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The development journey of an aspiring CFO

By Andy Burrows

Recently, I asked a question on LinkedIn and to Supercharged Finance mailing list subscribers. It went like this:

If I was to say to you that I want to help you get CFO-ready in six months, what are the top 3 things you think you would struggle with (and therefore need the most help with)?

If you want to submit your own answer to that question, I’m always interested in what people think. So, do let me know via the comments.

The responses received so far have been quite revealing, in two ways:

First, it shows what people think you need to be ready for a CFO role. And some of the things mentioned actually surprised me.

Second, it helps me in developing CFO Readiness Builder (my six-month development program for aspiring CFOs) to focus on high priority areas.

Now, just because people think certain things are needed to be a CFO, doesn’t mean they actually are absolutely needed as pre-requisites for CFO selection. Perception isn’t always reality. And...

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The biggest failure of my Finance career – and 4 lessons you can learn from it

By Andy Burrows

I had one of those lightbulb moments a few months ago. The sort that kind of catches your breath. Because in the space of a few seconds, something really helpful becomes clear to you that you never even considered before. And yet it was hiding there in plain sight. I could have seen it at any stage if I’d simply chosen a different perspective.

I’ll obviously come on to what that was in a minute. But first, I need to tell you a story.

It’s the story of my early Finance career.

I promise I’ll be brief. And it does have a point that will be relevant to you, especially if you have ambitions to progress into senior roles in Finance. I don’t (often) talk about myself just for the sake of it! So, please bear with me.

My success

You see, when I was 29 years and 5 months old, I got my first Finance Director job.

That’s a mere four years after I qualified as a chartered accountant and started putting the letters ACA after my name. And it was...

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Four things your Finance team should stop to help the business more

By Andy Burrows

I’ve worked as a senior leader in many Finance teams. And over the years I’ve noticed several things that we do that really hamper our effectiveness.

‘Effectiveness’ can be defined as the extent to which we’re achieving our mission.

I’ll come to that mission more specifically at the end of this article. But for now, let’s just take it in general terms that we exist in the business to help the business. We don’t do anything for its own sake, just to satisfy ourselves as accountants. We don’t produce reports just to be able to admire a nice report. We don’t do analysis just so that we can admire a financial model that balances. All the things we do should help the business.

And so, I want to talk about things I’ve come to see as unhelpful. Some of them we take for granted. We just do them, we accept that they exist and we perpetuate them. Some of them almost have the status of sacred cows that we...

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Don’t tell me you haven’t got time – 5 steps to getting more (important) things done

By Andy Burrows

One of the first things I teach my coaching clients is personal effectiveness.

Personal effectiveness – if you want a rough informal definition – is the ability to get important things done.

A big part of that is what has been called “time management”. I’ll come back to why I think that terminology is unhelpful in a minute.

But first, the reason I teach this first is because of the number of people who would drop out of coaching groups because they “weren’t getting time to make use of the learning and coaching opportunities”. In order to help people get the career benefits, and to help them to improve their impact in their workplace, I had to first enable them to open up time to learn and change.

And on top of that I would hear people saying they didn’t have time to join  my coaching group to get the CFO skills, the business-focused Finance skills, to level up their impact in their business and...

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When you meet resistance in the business

 

By Andy Burrows

One of the common questions I get asked relates to meeting resistance in the business.

For instance, I was explaining in a webinar recently that Finance and the CFO are like coaches to the business. We provide the performance management framework.

And someone said, “what if colleagues in the business don’t want to be coached?”

It’s a really good point.

And it’s worth knowing how to address the issue, because if you think about it, great CFOs don’t seem to have this problem.

So, if you want to progress in your career you need to develop those kind of CFO skills that will give you influence within the business.

It also affects your job satisfaction as a Finance professional. Because it’s disheartening when you can see that you really can make a difference and add value, but no-one seems interested in what you have to say.

Here's a little video clip of my answer to that question.

 

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How to be a Finance Business Partner, even when you’re not!

9 top tips any Finance professional can use to increase their impact in business

By Andy Burrows

In this article I’m going to give you nine tips from my experience that will help you to increase your business reputation and impact, even if you’re not a Finance Business Partner.

When I’m coaching and training, especially speaking to our My Finance Coach members, I’ll often come across frustrations such as:

“I’m stuck! I can’t get into a business partnering role!”

“My role is so dry. How can I be Finance Business Partner?”

And my advice is essentially to put the thoughts of a Finance Business Partner role, and Finance business partnering, on one side. I encourage people to think more in terms of how they can help the business, than whether they have a particular role or title or not.

Sure, it helps a lot to have a Finance Business Partner role on your way up the ladder, if you want to be a CFO.

But the most important thing is...

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6 slogans for small business Finance professionals

By Andy Burrows

You can be a Finance business partner in a small company

As I’ve spoken with Finance professionals around the world about their careers, there’s a particular pain that is felt by those who work in small businesses.

Sometimes they talk about the fact that they want to be Finance business partners, but they’re stuck in the mundane tasks of Finance.

Sometimes they talk about the struggle they have trying to get involved with the business, because the business doesn’t see the need to include them.

There’s a perception in some places that to get real Finance business partnering experience you have to go and work in a bigger company.

But that cannot be right!

In the USA, 45% of GDP comes from small businesses. Nearly 50% of employees work for small businesses. And I bet the situation is similar around the world, possibly even more so.

Imagine the impact we could have on the economy if small business Finance professionals could help their...

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How to talk about failure without using the F word

By Andy Burrows

Do you feel like a failure sometimes?

Do you get embarrassed or demotivated because of things that haven’t gone right for you?

Do you look at other people and get jealous because they’re successful and you’re not?

Well, if so, I hope that my personal reflections will help you.

My biggest failure

When Talita Ferreira was interviewing me for her Leadership Hypothesis video series, she tripped me up unintentionally by asking me a question. She asked me, “could you say there’s a failure in your career somewhere that someone could learn from?”

For some reason, the question I heard (and which sticks in my mind) was: What is your biggest failure?

My heart started pounding at that point, and I had to quickly compose myself. I was being recorded! The show must go on!

I didn’t duck the question. But I don’t think my answer was entirely coherent either! And you can check out the interview and 26 others like it in Talita’s ...

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Business Performance Management for Finance Professionals

By Andy Burrows

You’re a Finance professional who wants to do their best for the business you work for.

You may want to rise to be a CFO one day.

If so, you must grasp business performance management.

Business performance management is a key element of the business acumen you need to be a business-focused Finance professional. And it’s something that is specifically the responsibility of the CFO and Finance.

If you want to be more than “just an accountant”; if you want to drive business performance, rather than just spectate or commentate on it, learn business performance management!

And that’s what I aim to introduce you to in this article.

Why is business performance management so important?

Business performance management is an essential discipline, because as I regularly say, “managing business performance better leads to better business performance... otherwise why bother managing it?”

Management is “maintaining control...

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