The CFO’s role in the pursuit of growth - McKinsey Survey


“As CFOs play a bigger role in strategy, their influence may bring renewed focus on organic growth.... The more CFOs contribute to strategy, the more relevant their perceptions of growth may become.”

These understated words from a recent survey by McKinsey underscore the growing importance that CFOs have in both finance and strategy in companies of all sizes. As a provider of outsourced CFO services here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are at the forefront of helping CEOs and business owners in improving their companies’ sales growth, costs, margins, profits, and cash flow.

CFOs are no longer glorified accountants. CEOs and business owners increasingly need an internal business partner who can be their guide through stormy business waters. That is, it’s no longer sufficient to provide a monthly P&L or financial statement without analyzing the data to help the CEO know where the problem areas are and what can be done to improve them.

Here are some other interesting survey results:

  • Sustainable growth is the most important strategic and financial challenge that companies face. “Among CFOs, 86 percent report finding new sources of growth (both organic and inorganic) is a challenge, while 77 percent cite balancing long-term growth with short-term investor pressures as a challenge.”

  • 45 percent of CFOs in the survey believe that the most important driver of growth is organic growth vs. M&A activities.

  • Among the key business processes crucial to revenue and profit growth, most companies are extremely or very satisfied with the key role that their CFO plays in resource-allocation. This resource-allocation includes capital allocation, capex expenditures, and P&L management.

  • “Yet nearly half of non-CFO executives report less satisfaction with their companies’ effectiveness at processes that drive M&A, as well as expansion into new markets and organic growth (such as new-product development and expansion to adjacent products and services). Not surprisingly, these are the same areas where non-CFO respondents think CFOs could more effectively spend their time.” Clearly, the CEO and other senior executives wish that their CFO would be more proactive in helping and leading efforts in both M&A efforts as well as new product development.

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