SOURCE: Accounting Management Solutions

February 07, 2007 09:00 ET

Today's CFO Is a Financial Guardian and Strategic Leader, According to Accounting Management Solutions

WALTHAM, MA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- February 7, 2007 --To succeed today, an organization's chief financial officer frequently serves as guardian of the company's finances and as a strategic leader. While the two roles require different skill sets, the CFO needs to excel at both.

"Being a guardian means knowing how all the pieces of the business fit together. It's walking on the ground and sweating the details," says Robert Angell, Managing Director of the Emerging Business & Life Sciences/Technology Practice at Accounting Management Solutions, Inc. (AMS), a leading provider of outsourced accounting, financial management, and recruiting services.

"Strategy operates at the 30,000 foot level, is more forward looking, and copes with change. The best CFOs are good hikers and good pilots."

As a financial guardian, according to Angell, the CFO focuses on accounting, control, risk management, and asset preservation. He or she needs good, timely information to enable the performance of these critical functions, and to help develop new information.

In fast growing companies, as well as in organizations experiencing static growth, the pace of daily business means accounting and financial management systems frequently don't get the attention they deserve, he says.

"In such cases, the first job of the CFO is to evaluate and update those systems," says Angell. "That can mean making minor adjustments or rebuilding the entire system. Whatever the case may be, the CFO needs to make sure the right information is being produced when it's needed."


Because the CFO is part of the senior management team and helps set overall strategy, he or she is in a unique position to help propel the organization forward, says Angell. Ideally, the CFO helps define the organization's future by occupying a seat at the intersection of operations and strategy.

"The most effective CFOs are those who can teach and lead people throughout the organization, including peers on the senior management team and everyone who works with the team," says Angell.

The CFO's unique perspective enables him or her to identify sources of risk and provide guidance on how actions to mitigate those risks will impact the organization's ability to reach its goals.


While different managers have different styles, Angell says the following approaches can help CFOs balance and fulfill the roles of guardian and leader:

* Invest in people, including yourself and those who work for you. This means keeping current on accounting and financial management practices.

* Simplify and standardize processes within your organization. Make sure different divisions or groups use the same approach in their business planning and reporting. Minimize exceptions.

* Embrace technology. There are any number of systems and tools for automating repetitive tasks. Institute these where possible, but remain in control of what you implement.

* Engage outside counsel periodically. In a fast moving business environment, it helps to tap an external perspective -- to assess current accounting and financial management processes and practices, to conduct operational reviews, and to brainstorm opportunities for improvement.


Accounting Management Solutions, Inc. (, based in Waltham, Mass., is the leading provider of outsourced accounting, financial management, and recruiting services to emerging companies and public, private, and nonprofit organizations throughout New England. Services include interim and part-time accounting and financial management professionals, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance support, and financial consulting.

Contact Information

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