Supercharged Finance Blog

The Purpose-Driven CFO and Much More!

Keep up to date with our resources - register on our mailing list

If you want to be a CFO, develop these 3 skills...

By Andy Burrows

There are three areas of skills you need to develop if you want to be a good Chief Financial Officer or Finance business partner – business acumen, technical skills and behavioural skills.

And my intention is to unpack these three areas a little bit, so that you can get to grips with planning your development journey more effectively.

In my last article I shared my belief that Finance business partner is the new best route to a CFO role. That is to say, core CFO skills are Finance business partnering skills. And well-developed Finance business partnering skills are what you need to be a CFO.

That’s why I’m talking about the two together, and why I believe that if your ambition is to be a CFO, you ought to be thinking about the same areas of skill that Finance business partners need.

And since with any skill you can’t develop it without practice, what better practice for a CFO role than a Finance business partner role?

So, let me tell you about...

Continue Reading...

Why Finance Business Partner is the new best route to a CFO role

By Andy Burrows

This will not be news to some of you, but taking a route through Finance business partnering is now the best way to achieve your ambition of getting into a CFO role.

It used to be the case that financial control and reporting was the established path to the Chief Financial Officer’s chair. A solid Financial Controller was seen as not only the CFO’s right hand person, but the CFO’s natural successor.

This, I believe, is not the case any more.

And the reason for writing an article about this is that it helps in guiding your development plans and career plans. At its most basic level that equates to thinking about the job moves you choose, and the courses you choose to take, after completing your accountancy qualification.

But, what’s changed to give rise to these changes in career paths?

The CFO is now more strategic

Firstly, the CFO role has become more about strategic partnering with the CEO and the Board, to maximise the performance of the...

Continue Reading...

How to become a great Finance business partner... even if the thought scares you!

By Andy Burrows

Feel the fear and do it anyway!

Many of those who observe and comment on the state of the Finance function in general portray Finance people as being fearful of change.

The hype around robotic process automation (RPA) and artificial intelligence, the explosion in different tools on top of the ERP system and Excel, the speed of business change, and the cost pressure on Finance, add up to a significant feeling of uncertainty.

I have to say, when I work with Finance teams, I don’t necessarily feel that fear tangibly. People seem to get their heads down and work hard, and grab automation opportunities with both hands as something that will make their lives easier.

But I think it’s the way we characterise or explain things.

You see, I don’t think Finance people are fearful of losing their jobs, which is often the way it’s expressed by commentators (like myself). I’ve lost my job several times in my career – and it’s a...

Continue Reading...

Why culture and strategy are the key to future CFO and Finance success

By Andy Burrows

I do quite like that saying (originated by Peter Drucker), “culture eats strategy for breakfast!” I’m not quite sure what it means exactly... but it conjures images of tasty eggs, bacon, sausages, and maybe a couple of slices of toast, so it makes me smile!

But what of culture and/or strategy in the Finance function?

I’m going to argue in this article that Finance is increasingly under pressure to change. Or, more positively, we’re presented with an opportunity we should be reaching for more confidently than we are.

And that’s the opportunity to be involved in business decisions, the opportunity to drive business performance through helping to improve performance management.

The irony is that it’s the CFO who often stands in the way of the Finance fulfilling its potential to help the business and create value. And that’s because the CFO often has cultural blind spots and strategic blind spots.

The drivers of change in...

Continue Reading...

Is the drive for efficiency actually making Finance any better?

finance transformation May 30, 2019

By Andy Burrows

In the generally accepted paradigm for the Finance function, where Finance is an overhead that needs to be kept down and reduced constantly, efficiency is often the name of the game.

And the ways we get efficiency are normally through simplification, standardisation and automation.

Those three words were the mantra of a Finance Transformation programme I once knew. And it’s a great mantra!

We don’t want to be adding layer upon layer of complexity. We don’t need to have multiple ways of doing exactly the same thing. And why would we do something manually when a computer can do it for us?

But…

We need to be careful. There is such a thing as oversimplification. And even as we shave more costs out of the P&L through simplification-driven efficiency, there can be bigger negative impact on overall performance.

Let me explain…

Why Simple Wins… But Not All The Time

In her book, Why Simple Wins, Lisa Bodell talks about what she...

Continue Reading...

Let's stop messing about with project budgeting!

By Andy Burrows

Budgeting creates problems for projects in business.

Projects are often something of an anomaly for Finance when it comes to expenditure control and resource allocation. At least that’s the way that it’s felt.

The problem, however, is really budgetary control.

When I was doing management reporting for functional expenditure areas, that’s what I used to feel with projects.

And the problem was that we were trying to manage project expenditure in the same way as every other kind of expenditure.

We’d create cost centres for projects as if they were business departments. That would mean the nomination of a cost centre manager, and the inclusion of the project costs within the ‘actual vs budget’ variance analysis each month for each function.

When it came to forecasts, we’d collate the data in the same way as every other cost centre. And we’d challenge their forecasts, and their spending against budget in the same way as...

Continue Reading...

Why business needs more boring accountants!

By Andy Burrows

When I came out of public practice and went to work for a business in its Finance team, I was fairly naïve. I still had a very black and white view – an auditors view - of accounting. And so, some of the practices of the management accountants were a real shock to me.

My point in this article is that they should be a shock! Finance professionals in business are supposed to tell it how it is, and to be the ones that keep the business honest.

There’s a general joke about the term, “creative accounting” (it’s supposed to be an oxymoron!) But if we’re honest with ourselves in Finance, much of that practice happens with the intention of misleading people. And the only reason we don’t call it fraud is because these things normally involve judgment, and therefore we think we can justify it as just being “very prudent”, or saying, “it’s a grey area”.

Accruals and provisions

In that first job outside...

Continue Reading...

Finance transformation without new software or shared services

By Andy Burrows

This article was inspired by a comment someone made a while ago when I was talking recently about innovation within Finance: “Can innovation in finance be as simple as: Put away the spreadsheets! Get off email! And absorb yourself in the business! It seems simple but is it innovative…?”

That struck a chord with me. It would be quite a new and different thing for many Finance people to spend more of their time with the business. It's not what we'd normally class as innovation, but the definition of 'innovation' is just the application of something new to bring about an improvement.

The big question is ‘why?’

The big question is 'why?' What benefit would there be from Finance people spending more time with non-Finance people in the business? Are we saying that there is more value in simple conversations with non-Finance business managers than spending time on the spreadsheets we love (and love to hate)? How can that be?

Many people may...

Continue Reading...

Another Brick in the Finance Wall – We Don’t Need No Innovation!

By Andy Burrows

This is my second article looking at the relationship of Finance with innovation. In the other article I shared a few thoughts on how Finance can support strategic business innovation, which benefits customers and provides competitive advantage.

This time I want to turn my attention to innovation within Finance, affecting what we do on a day to day basis.

What is innovation?

One question we’d probably better get sorted in our minds is, what is innovation?

I remember attending a presentation a while back. In it they expressed great concern that a survey showed very few CFOs had priorities in innovation within Finance. (Well, of course, they did. The event was sponsored by one of the big software vendors! Ok, I’m being cynical, I know!)

And I sat there thinking, what do they mean by innovation?

And why is it such a high priority thing to do?

We’re all so busy. And some software sales person comes along and says we really need to consider their...

Continue Reading...

How Finance Can Support Strategic Business Innovation

By Andy Burrows

Two innovation problems for Finance

When we think about the attitude of Finance towards innovation, there are two key questions:

  1. What should our attitude be towards business innovation? And,
  2. What should our attitude be towards internal innovation within Finance?

I’ll deal with the second question in another article.

But, before I kick off let me be honest about my thinking about innovation and Finance.

I approach innovation, whether in business or Finance, with a mixture of scepticism and mind-boggled wonder.

I am still staggered when I think of the rate of change over my working life. The internet, mobile communication, digital music and photography, to name but a few. Life has been transformed in less than 30 years.

And in order to achieve that, brave entrepreneurs – the likes of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg – had to take risks with their new inventions. They reaped the rewards, and continue to do so.

And there have been hard lessons...

Continue Reading...
1 2 3 4 5 6
Close

For regular emails containing tips and advice on working in Finance in business, as well as notification of new material from Supercharged Finance, just fill in your details and click the button below!