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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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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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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Business Acumen for Finance Professionals

By Andy Burrows

What is business acumen?

Business acumen is an extremely important topic for Finance professionals.

Everyone agrees that you need business acumen to be a good CFO. It’s also an essential ingredient for a Finance Business Partner. But, on top of that, we know that Finance as a whole is becoming more business-focused, so business acumen is becoming more fundamental to Finance professional development.

And there are a couple of reasons, at least, for the rising importance of business acumen for Finance professionals.

First, the business landscape is increasingly complex, changing rapidly, and becoming more global, because of the unstoppable drive of new digital and communications technology.

That means that the analytical part of decision-making now needs more than just a commercial CFO. The CFO needs a team they can delegate to, to get involved in helping business decisions.

It has also put non-Finance managers in the business under pressure. They are also being...

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Business-focused Finance is NOT the same as Finance Business Partnering

By Andy Burrows

Those who have followed me for a while may have noticed that I’ve started using the term business-focused Finance. And you may be wondering whether it’s actually just the same as Finance business partnering. Or is business-focused Finance something different?

And to answer that question right up front I’d say that a large element of Business-Focused Finance is Finance business partnering, but I’m thinking of business-focused Finance as something broader.

What I've come to understand is that Finance Business Partner is a specific role often seen within Finance, designed to give various non-Finance functions access to the full power of the Finance function in managing business performance within their areas.

Finance business partnering is a phrase that’s either been used to describe simply what Finance Business Partners do, or to describe the kind of mindset needed within Finance.

I think that’s confusing.

It tends to lead to the...

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To be a happy and effective CFO, take care of yourself!

By Andy Burrows

Probably the most important thing to recognise as you develop in your career (and in your life) is that continued progress takes continued effort.

It’s not one-dimensional, either. Many people think – and I’m applying this to Finance people, but it can equally apply to anyone – that continued development is just a case of learning more stuff. We learn accounting, pass accounting exams, and then we progress in our careers by learning more stuff about accounting. Wrong!

Or, worse, we believe that once we’ve got the qualification then it’s just a case of accumulating years and automatically going on up the ladder. Nope! It doesn’t happen like that!

No, to be “the best version of you” you need to attend to four dimensions. And I’ll come on to those in a minute.

And the other element that is important in personal and career development is intentionality. Making effort, even if balanced in the four dimensions,...

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Everyone's a winner with good Finance business partnering

By Andy Burrows

We’re accustomed, I think, to talking about a “Win/Win situation” as some scenario where everyone involved in a deal ends up happy with what they got out of it.

I haven’t got time to justify (and shouldn’t need to anyway) why “Win/Win” is the best outcome to aim for in any relational situation.

But one thing is certain. You don’t get Win/Win situations without having a Win/Win mindset.

And when we think of what Finance business partners, CFOs and Finance leaders should be aiming at, it must involve situations where everyone ends as a winner, certainly where the business is concerned.

For instance, as an example scenario, sales managers might feel they have gained some great insight from Finance that will enable them to convert more leads, whilst in the same interaction the Finance manager feels they’ve got sales managers to better manage risk.

These are the kind of interactions we in Finance want with our...

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