Monday, March 07, 2005
by Vinay Couto, Irmgard Heinz, and Mark J. Moran
Jack and the Bean Counter were due for a change.
As in most folk stories, a big, stomping giant showed up — several, in fact. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act, globalization, and the information technology revolution, to name three behemoths, have changed the face of the modern corporation. Beset by complexity; confronted by disruptive innovations from outside the conventional value chain; challenged by fickle shareholders, national and transnational regulatory bodies, and capital markets in a constant state of upheaval, the contemporary company is no fairy tale. The CEO is no longer a carefree Jack. And the CFO, needless to say, is no bean counter.Booz Allen interviewed a dozen top CFOs. The CFO has become a strategist, the CEO's point person, leaders of transformation, and "chief metrics officers." Fortune 500 firms are dumping COOs and handing part of operations to the CFO. Today's CFO is expected to create value, not simply report on it.
The CFO has only one core constituency: the shareholder. This fact, combined with the trusting relationships CFOs develop with senior business executives, allows the CFO to move seamlessly into a more transformational role. That role, we discovered, is no fairy tale, but the new reality for chief financial officers around the world.