CFO Resilience?

Resilience, resilience, resilience, a word which has come into common usage over the last 5 years. We must have a resilient mindset, a resilient leader, a resilient team! What is resilience and what relevance does it have for the CFO?

“Resilience is the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape”

To spring back into shape…to get up from a knockdown…to recover…to return to your original shape. It sounds great, we must be resilient! Every successful person claims to be resilient in the face of every adversity, set back, defeat, reversal, you name it, resilience will slay that dragon! If I say resilience to you, you will automatically think of mindset and how it affects you as a person.

However, does this work for Finance, can we build resilient people, teams and leaders or are we focussing on the wrong objective? It is admirable and desirable for every person to seek to better themselves, to be the best they can be, to be strong mentally and to contribute positively to Society because they are happy and positive. That surely, is their priority, their personal priority, is it not?

Does this work for Finance, does it work for the CFO? If you imagine that each Business is a microcosm of Society then it will have positive, negative, strong, and weak people? Most people will work on average 5 years for one employer and this average is dropping as the Millennial Generation are more mobile and more conscious of corporate mission in their choice of employer.

Therefore, should the CFO focus primarily on their resilience, is that the top priority of a CFO? It is easy to fall into the post Pandemic trap of focussing on staff resilience but that is not the primary responsibility of the CFO. Staff will come and go, they will join and leave for factors way beyond the control of the CFO.

The responsibility of the CFO is to protect the Finance Process. A CFO failing to invest time and resources in building a resilient Finance process is running a risk, that the next natural disaster will break their Finance process and their Business. Many Finance teams suffered in the Pandemic due to under investment in Process resilience. The same challenges that befell the NHS were laid bare to any Finance team that was reliant on paper and critical workers.

Beyond the FTSE 100 how many UK CFO’s can say their Finance function performed at normal efficiency once the initial shock of lockdown was absorbed. I would hazard a guess that it was less than 30%. They were reliant on critical workers to keep an end-to-end Process such as Accounts Payable operating. It was these critical workers who still went to the Office.

Its 2021 and across Europe 80% of Companies still process paper Invoices, as a result Accounts Payable staff, Team Leaders and Managers had to visit the Office and be ‘critical workers’ in a Pandemic. It does not seem quite right, does it? Where is the resilience in all of this, where is the care for the individual, where is the care for our people?

An individual, team, leader or business risks failure when they focus on the wrong objective. When they focus on what they are comfortable with, what is popular or what is the latest trend they stay in their comfort zone and their Business stands on a precipice.

Lockdown is over, staff are back in Finance Offices throughout the UK, how should the CFO build Finance process resilience? Automate, Automate, and Automate! There is no other way. Every Business-critical process must be identified, documented, and Automated without delay.

Think you have time to debate the finer points of RPA versus AI? Think again, before it’s too late!

Automate Finance with Finance Transformation UK

Author: Michael Ryan

With 25 years' experience Transforming Finance across multiple Sectors as a Consultant and as a Finance Transformation Leader, Michael Ryan is uniquely placed to advise Clients on creating a World Class Finance Team. Call him now on 0203 1466878