Driving Business Performance: A CFO - CSO Collaboration

Lin Duan
Published on: 11th June 2016
Where strategy was once the job of a company’s CEO, the responsibility of developing good strategies is now often shared between members of the C-suite. Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) have seen their roles expand into strategy development, and companies have additionally created the position of a Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) in order to deal with the rising challenges of strategy development in a globalised world market. Tensions may rise between these two heads, as is natural in any organisation, but when CFOs and CSOs work together, they become a powerful force that effectively take companies into bold new directions. This collaboration between CFOs and CSOs has been a key focus in Innovation Enterprise’s summits in Hong Kong. 
A CFO - CSO Collaboration
The CFO - an expanding role 

The analytical and empirical mindset of the CFO is an invaluable resource to a company, not just in technical finance terms. Such skills, when applied to a strategy can help immensely when it comes to forecasting trends, setting and executing a company’s strategic plans - roles typically reserved to the CSO. 

CFOs now need to be more innovative and, in addition to their technical finance skills, also need to have strong soft skills such as empathy, along with intellectual and emotional agility. New media and new technologies are changing the way the world responds to companies and CFOs that understand this can be empowered to drive growth through innovation and creativity. 

The CSO - pairing innovation with analysis 

The role of the CSO has been described as highly ambiguous and constantly evolving. This is hardly surprising as rapid changes in the world today means strategic officers have to think on their feet while staying in touch with the latest innovations in the business world.

Change is purview of the CSO and many companies are slow to adopt change. Change is challenging and transformation projects often fail. Strategy development is but one part, while effective execution is the other, and where many projects stumble. Effective implementation can, in part, be helped by identification of which strategies have the highest probabilities of success, an analytical role performed well by CFOs.

A CFO-CSO collaboration 

By combining the skill sets of CSOs and CFOs - welding deep knowledge of regulation, innovation and trend together with strong analytical skills, understanding of capital allocation and stakeholder issues - a strong CFO - CSO collaboration can propose options and innovations to improve short-term earnings and fuel long-term growth.  Both the CFO Rising Summit and Chief Strategy Officer Summit, taking place between June 29 and 30 this year in Singapore, will feature talks on the changing roles of CFOs, strategic approaches, innovations in the banking industry, and networking sessions between both CFOs and CSOs.

By Lin Duan, Head of Asia, Innovation Enterprise
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