Customer centricity and the evolving role of the CFO

Customer centricity and the evolving role of the CFO

The days of the CFO being the faceless suit with calculator in one hand and spreadsheet in the other are well and truly in the past.

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Partner in Charge, Financial Management

KPMG Australia

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It has long been recognised that CFOs need to become business partners with their feet firmly under the table during strategic planning, providing essential input on funding, managing growth plans and maximising shareholder returns.

But there's a growing chorus calling for a significant shift in the finance function towards truly customer centric activity and engagement.

Customer-centric finance functions

Key principles of developing customer-centric finance functions are:

  • Growing the relationship
    It takes time to build an effective customer centric relationship underpinned by strong business partnering. There is typically a lot of ‘framework’ type activity to get right – but that doesn’t provide an excuse to do nothing until the processes, technology and data issues have been addressed. Finance can still work with the business, provide value through improving the quality of commentary, support with analysis of business performance and build the necessary relationships with the business. It may be sensible to start small, be successful – to build credibility – and then grow the relationship.
  • Co-location
    It is critical that the business feels that the business partners ‘belong’ to them and are part of their team. What does this mean? Normally that the business partners are co-located with the business and that there is continuity of service delivery. Finance should celebrate when members of their team are headhunted by the business!
  • Objectives and performance assessment
    The business should be involved in defining the role of the business partners, their objectives and responsibilities, what they focus on and how they engage with the business. The business must also be involved in assessing the performance, in conjunction with Finance, of their business partners. The role of Finance is then to set the overall strategy for business partnering, determine the areas of focus, and to manage the recruitment, development, training of the business partners – and their overall success. Finance is ultimately responsible for the success of the model.
  • Finance needs to be ‘easy to do business with’
    This means having effective processes and relationship managers with empathy and good customer skills.But it also means Finance being clear on what it will do and when it will do it – and also what it WILL NOT be doing. Consistency of service and delivery standards is critical. Finance needs to be able to say ‘no’ – in a way that the business respects – and to agree with the business how best to handle ad-hoc requests.

Financial Management

Financial Management

We work with our clients to enhance the operation of their finance functions and position their finance teams for lasting success.

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