Beyond the Bottom Line: An Interview with Chief Financial Officers

Through the eyes of Amy…

Recent interviews with Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) of successful North American companies indicate that the most effective chief financial officers do more than just look at the bottom line or manage a company’s risks and accounting.

To increase sales and decrease expenses, for example, a CFO would “supervise the bookkeeper, do the analytics, and forecast projections and comparisons,” while another CFO would, “understand what the market needs in order to understand the needs of customers.”

To further marginalize profit, some CFOs look at the pricing model, compare it with others in the industry, and even goes as far as visiting vendors to look at the pricing. In order to at first effectively supervise and understand the needs of the market, programs are increasingly being used and are recommended by these CFOs as well. Some of these programs that are being initiated include:

Mystery Shopping
Market Research
Integrity Inspections
Competitive Analysis

Mystery shopping programs offer unbiased evaluation of the company’s service and customer demographics, for example. While market research provides feedback in forms of online, in-­person, and telephone surveys.

As for integrity inspection services, they do not only reduce internal shrinkage, but help protect the reputation and assets of a company. Finally, competitive analysis programs provide valuable information on pricing, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for a company.

Other methods that CFOs use for profit marginalization include “conducting phone calls to insurance companies for advice, having a warm, attentive attitude towards potential customers and business partners, and have enthusiasm for the job, see employees as family, and see guests as friends.” Such an open mindset surely helps CFOs to, “truly be part of the management team” and “get into the mind of the customers.”

What drives these CFOs to see beyond the bottom line is that they see themselves as always part of the team and wish to genuinely see the company grow, for the company’s success is their success. Another reason shared by these CFOs is that “when you become in charge, it brings you a lot of things: self­-confidence, good relationships, and most importantly, you get to see the growth of the company.”

The effectiveness of both chief financial officers are leading to the success of their respective companies, and that is something that merits celebration.

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