Can CFOs Have a Close Relationship with the CEO?

By Rich Bond

In a recent survey, CFO Magazine learned that 87% of CFOs leave their jobs because of their relationship with the CEO. With CFO turnover at a high, what can be done to fix this problem?

Some articles say that CEOs focus on revenue generation, while CFOs focus on having enough cash. That can create clashes.

I believe the answer lies in making the effort to meet regularly and communicate clearly and factually.  It also helps to have a social relationship.

When I worked in corporate America as a division CFO, my boss, who was the division president, and I met informally on a regular basis to see how the division was doing (usually before 9am or after 5pm).

We also regularly played basketball together, and I was always on his team.

Why was I so popular with the division president?  I was brief and made specific fact-based projections that he knew he could “take to the bank”.

I also spoke in unvarnished terms about potential problems, and whenever possible, made recommendations to reduce the problem(s).

When my boss was preparing for a dinner with the corporation president, I prepped him on what to talk about and what to avoid.

In my 30+ years of recruiting financial people, I worked with some great CFOs, who had a far greater impact on their companies than I did on the one I worked for, but had a similar modus operandi.

I would be happy to talk to you about what you as a CFOs can do to earn the respect of your CEO and the kinds of people you need to hire to do that.

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