In 1944, Winston Churchill said, “A love of tradition has never weakened a nation, indeed it has strengthened nations in their hour of peril…” But he didn’t stop there. Churchill very aptly concluded, “…but the new view must come, the world must roll forward.”
It’s long been discussed that there are a variety of personas that many CFOs carry. In fact, a recent survey of 1,500 financial experts determined that CFOs fall into six distinct categories: politicians (27%), revolutionaries (19%), carers (19%), conductors (16%), traditionalists (9%), and visionaries (9%).
This leads us to a very important, but unsurprising finding—CFOs who had innately traditional personalities were in charge of companies with the least amount of profit growth when compared to the other five CFO personalities (56 percent compared with the survey average of 64 percent).
Today, I want to focus on three of these six CFO personalities: the traditionalist, the revolutionary, and the visionary.
Let’s examine the traditionalist first: “This group of CFOs was the least likely to acknowledge the need for change in technology systems. When asked about IT systems, only 14 percent of this group said updates were needed.” Unfortunately, the traditionalists mantra of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t work in today’s ever-changing markets. Getting stuck on outdated technology can hold you back from success, organizational growth, and advancement.
This is where the real benefit of a modern, cloud solution can help. With cloud systems like Intacct, you are always on the latest version of the software. For example, at Intacct, we offer four software updates per year to ensure that new functionality and innovative capabilities are always at our customer’s fingertips. This also ensures that our customers can easily adapt to any new accounting regulations.
The revolutionaries. This group loves change! They appreciate the need to sometimes work outside of formal systems, take risks when necessary, and accept less-structured approaches. Forty eight percent of this crowd said that the IT support they get is inadequate. For context, only 36 percent of respondents from the other five groups shared this sentiment.
They can’t be held down by lack of technological advancement; they’re ready for change! This is the rock star group of the executive world and these CFOs are headed for success and they’re bringing their entire organizations with them if it’s the last thing they do. Again, having a cloud-based financial system offers these CFOs more flexibility to manage the system themselves. For example, with Intacct, our system is designed to be configured and customized by the finance team—using simple clicks, not complex scripts or other IT-dependent coding.
Lastly, let’s examine the visionaries. This group is a familiar bunch to me as I would place our CEO, Rob Reid, in this category; and that mentality is certainly is spread across the executive team, to our CFO, Marc Linden, and truly throughout our entire organization.
The visionary CFOs make decisions based on experience, a wealth of knowledge, and intuition. In the survey, this group was a huge proponent of team-based decision-making, and heavily supported IT advancement with 27 percent finding importance in investing in a new system, compared to the 17 percent sample average. These are the executives that have their ears to the ground, highly attuned to where the industry is going. They are laser-focused on what their customer’s need, and are determined to give it to them.
By being a best-in-class solution through and through, Intacct is able to offer the exact tools our customer’s need, versus a package deal that one would find in a suite, full of things they may not need and lacking in the critical tools they do. Further, this means Intacct is able—and proud—to offer an affordable cloud ERP system. A critical factor impacting total cost of ownership (TCO) is investment in research and development (R&D). Intacct invests 100% on accounting and financials—unlike suites which have to spread their R&D across multiple solutions. As previously mentioned, Intacct offers four software updates per year. This all comes down to having a visionary executive team that is intent on discovering the customer’s needs and delivering year after year.
What about you? This post may have only examined chief financial officers, but I think we all could identify with one or two of these character traits, regardless of where one is on a career journey.
So ask yourself, “Am I holding myself or my organization back from unprecedented growth because of my fear of change, risk aversion, comfort with the status quo, etc”? If you have an inkling that there’s an improvement to be made, I would challenge you to do so.
In turn, do you often find yourself leading the charge, embracing advancement, and (tastefully) pushing boundaries in hopes of bringing your organization to new levels of success and growth? If so, well done. I would encourage you to cultivate ways for this type of thinking to permeate your entire organization.