CFO Cross Functional Engagement

June 9, 2021

The CFO is ultimately responsible for a range of activities that (whether or not they are part of the Finance function) are essential to the management of the enterprise. Depending on the organization’s size, the CFO may be responsible for more silos than expected from CFOs of larger companies, where these responsibilities are transferred to another executive. Even in larger companies with chief executives to manage the below areas, all of the company management, especially the CFO, greatly benefit from coordination and strategic alignment.

Human Resources

Managing both the numbers and people within a company can have many strategic benefits, as the CFO will have a great perspective on how to best coordinate talent to maximize growth and profitability. It is an opportunity for the CFO to ensure that the enterprise is well-structured across departments and that teams communicate and operate efficiently. Many times companies will dramatically underestimate the cost of turnover. Proper management of HR includes talent retention strategies that include investment in your people to reduce other painful expenses in the future. Part of that strategy should create a great company culture, leadership development initiatives, proper incentives, and other plans to increase employee satisfaction. Here is a list of other responsibilities CFOs will have to manage within HR:

  • Oversee employee benefit/insurance programs
  • Employee handbook – company philosophies, payroll policies, benefits, workplace policies
  • Oversee employee hiring, salary/benefit change, termination procedures
  • Oversee salary administration process
  • Oversee creation and implementation of human resource policies
  • Oversee employee agreements/employment contracts
  • Manage equity-based compensation plan and agreements
  • Maintain equity-based compensation program/tracking ability

Legal

In companies with no General Counsel, the CFO may find themselves managing legal. The complexity of a given function within a company is subject to variation based on the industry, size, and other factors. This variation in complexity is especially true in regards to a company’s legal function. As part of risk management, the CFO will need to ensure compliance across the business. This includes the standardization of contracts and other processes that expose potential liability within the business. Properly maintaining an effective legal filing system can be crucial to managing risk and reducing time spent in legal. Here is a list of responsibilities inherent in managing legal:

  • Oversee centralized filing of all original legal contracts and agreements
  • Oversee database to track legal agreements
  • Review legal documents with legal staff/counsel
  • Be responsible for legal due diligence reviews, including technology ownership and corporate records

Operations

Without a COO, it is prevalent for CFOs to absorb the responsibilities of the Chief Operating Officer. It is now common for CFO to be a strategic advisor to the CEO, and managing operations is a large avenue for the CFO to participate as a company strategist. In many ways, the CEO can be viewed as the head of external operations while the CFO will design all internal efforts in coordination with the CEO’s goals. Because of the CFO’s close relationship to the business’s financial health, they are well-informed to set operational goals for performance and growth. The CFO, in this case, may also manage certain relationships with partners and vendors. An operations CFO may:

  • Oversee real estate procurement, lease negotiations, space planning
  • Implement and oversee purchasing processes
  • Oversee Facilities management
  • Conduct Department policies and procedures, e.g., customer support, demos, order fulfillment.
  • Manage sales, marketing, IT, legal, HR, and other functions
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