Prior to the Nonprofit CFO of the Year Awards Luncheon, Tate & Tryon’s managing partner, Charlie Tate moderated a panel discussion among 4 former award winners on what it takes to run an effective finance department.
Here are five key takeaways from the discussion:
- No more than 25% of their time is consumed by finance, with the remainder on strategy and operations. As “problem solvers,” CFOs often get pulled into other areas such as HR, IT, facilities, strategic planning, risk management, and even core programmatic activities.
- When it comes to presenting financial information to the CEO or board, all panelists agreed that mastering the art of story-telling is critical. It’s about understanding cause and effect and being able to explain the “why” behind the numbers in a way that a non-financial audience can quickly understand.
- A clean audit doesn’t necessarily earn you a bronze, silver, or gold star – it’s simply the price of admission. CEOs and boards want the CFO to be more forward-thinking – to be able to see around the corners and help prepare the organization for what’s next.
- The CFOs day-to-day responsibilities are to support the CEO and his or her vision for the organization. However, they acknowledged that their ultimate responsibility is in fact to the Board which is undertaken as a collaborative effort with the CEO.
- While a few of our panelists hope to be CEO one day and feel they could do it, all panelists agreed that to do so would require additional skill sets to support the advocacy role that many CEOs play.
Running an effective finance function is no easy task. As revealed in our panel discussion, a top-notch finance function is one that adds value to the overall management of the organization and drives more strategic decision-making. Please contact us if you are in need of assistance or if you would like to discuss opportunities to improve the effectiveness of your organization’s finance operations.