The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 1: Why Be Purpose-Driven?

By Andy Burrows

[First published 31st January 2017]

My Purpose

My intention is to start a series of articles that look at what it means to be “purpose-driven” in Finance. I’ve felt for a while that having a clear purpose is motivating. It helps teams to gel. It helps parts of the organisation to understand how they fit together with the other parts, and how together they contribute to an overarching higher objective. And it helps people to benchmark their decisions, testing the extent to which they are helping towards those objectives and goals.

In fact, if you’ve read much of what I’ve written previously, you’ll know that one of my favourite sayings is that we should be “intentional and analytical” in what we do. That basically means understanding why you want to do something, what you want to achieve by doing it, and then measuring to check how successful you were. The analysis will help you improve and learn from your mistakes, but...

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The Mourinho Approach to Managing Finance

By Andy Burrows

[First published 19 January 2017]

How do you motivate a Financial Reporting team to go through the stress and pressure of “month end” and be happy about it? How do you stop it becoming a monthly grind that makes them curse the day they decided to train as an accountant?

I once took up an interim position heading up Group Reporting in a large business. The business had been through a lot of change, and I was stepping into the shoes of someone who was clearly one of the few people in Finance that had detailed knowledge of every area. It was a tough act to follow.

The team, and even the junior managers and team leaders, were new to their roles. At the same time, some team members appeared less motivated, and the team leaders were finding it difficult to get through the changes to a steady state. Every month end seemed to involve days of staying late into the evenings to get things done (a 9pm finish would be good going during month end). It was never due to...

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Making Big Overhead Cuts with Surgical Precision

By Andy Burrows

[First published 21 October 2016]

What do you do, as a Finance Director or Senior Finance Manager, when the Board suddenly decides that one of their key strategies is an urgent round of cuts to make cost savings in overheads? And I don’t mean the 5% “budget task” or absorbing inflation. I mean what if there’s a downturn in the market and the level of overhead is no longer sustainable, and they feel the axe needs to fall to the extent of reductions of, say, 25%, 30% or even 40%?

The challenge of achieving those savings is going to be a collective responsibility, involving all directorates, but Finance is going to get the job of co-ordinating the review and making sure management take it seriously.

I guess if you work in Finance long enough you will see this kind of thing. It happened to me once.

Putting Yourself Out of a Job?

In fact, there’s a double-whammy for Finance. The costs of our function are part of the overhead costs of the...

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So you want to be a CFO? – 12 actionable tips to plot a course to the top role in Finance!

By Andy Burrows

[First published 28 February 2018]

“What are the things I need to do to become a CFO in the future?”

“How can I make the transition from Financial Controller to Finance Director?”

These are the kind of questions I get from people from time to time. They probably ask me because of the breadth and length of my experience.

So, I thought I’d write something that gives a few pointers around how I would answer those questions.

[BONUS: I've created a free workbook to help you come up with your action plan from these tips.

It's called the CFO Career Action Plan Workbook.

Get it by clicking here!]

So, without further ado, here are those pointers…

1. Do a great job now

I’ve seen several career-minded people fail because they spent so much time and energy thinking of plotting their career that they didn’t do a good job. And that’s a shame.

Careers are made up of levels and steps. And you don’t normally get to...

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Why the “Future CFO” Should Spend Less Time Business Partnering, Not More

By Andy Burrows

[First published 14 June 2018]

The title of this article may sound strange in an age where Finance business partnering is one of the megatrends in Finance. But bear with me. There’s a good reason why I’m going to argue that “the future CFO” should do less business partnering, and not more.

I’m going to start by arguing that, contrary to popular belief, the CFO’s role has already changed such that they are now seen as THE Finance Business Partner. There’s no need to berate them any more for being mere beancounters and scorekeepers. As a generalisation, especially in medium to large enterprises, most CFOs are seen as the CEO’s right hand, and it’s those two roles together that face the business owners.

But I’ll also argue that this has made CFOs so busy that they’ve become disconnected from the Finance function. They now almost look at Finance from the outside, as just an overhead to cut wherever...

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