3 Tips for CFOs to Weather the Storm of Today’s Economy

Posted by | August 1, 2011

The job of a CFO in a weak economy has become increasingly difficult with each passing quarter, pushing the CFO further into the line of fire.  Revenue demands, financing uncertainty and cost management limitations require the focus of an expert tactician with the confidence to turn investment challenges into opportunities.  So, what types of skills do you need to be successful in a tough economy?  And what can a CFO do to stay ahead of the curve?

Stay Focused. Be Tactical.
The present economy has been rough, and companies that have successfully navigated the last 24 months got there because they focused on leveraging their core competencies.  By creating a deliberate plan of attack, they’ve kept their company on the best course to succeed.  Applying your talents in direct and meaningful ways will realize substantial returns for your company.

Remain focused on your strategy, but don’t be afraid to add creative thinking into the mix–it will help you find new ways to take advantage of a changing landscape.  Textbook formulae won’t work.  Weathering a financial storm demands an open-mind and a willingness to change the way you typically do business.  Examine a variety of alternatives you’d normally dismiss and be willing to pursue previously untested courses of action to turn challenges into opportunities.

Think Strategically
As if present economic conditions weren’t enough, boards can test a CFO’s mettle by closely evaluating corporate strategy and monitoring the company’s progress and direction.  To keep them confident, the CFO needs to work in conjunction with the CEO to continually update the company strategy.  Where does your company want to be one year from now? Five years from now? Put yourself in a position where you’re thinking about your business strategically, not re-actively.  CFOs have to think strategically and become a partner in the overall operation of a company.

Balance Optimism with Pragmatism
In a tough economy, it’s important to remember to balance optimism with pragmatism.  There will be speed bumps along the road, and CFOs need to make sure their organizations are prepared and won’t get knocked off course.  It’s a lot like being a military commander.  You must have a strategic mind and complete knowledge of your field of battle.  You can’t wait to react; you must be quick to act.  Your moves need to be planned out three or four steps in advance.  Stay ahead of the curve and, perhaps like Patton across the deserts of North Africa, your competitors will tremble at your approach.

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