A CFO plays a crucial role in any organization and can have a significant impact on the company’s financial health and overall success. 

By understanding the different types of CFOs, you can gain insights into the varied skill sets, experiences, and leadership styles that can be brought to the role. 

In this post, we explore the characteristics of eight distinct types of CFOs and offer insights into the unique contributions each type can bring to an organization. Whether you are a business leader looking to hire a CFO or a finance professional seeking to develop your career, this document provides valuable information that can help you make informed decisions.

In every business we’ve encountered, CFO preferences vary, with a focus on one to four distinct types. Let’s explore:

The Accountant:
Masters of numbers, their expertise lies in clarity, compliance, and control. They excel in financial reporting and trust the established systems. Accountants are typically risk-averse and meticulous in their calculations, bringing extensive experience in finance.

The Analyst:
Skilled in data visualization, they bring transparency and visibility to financials. With their profound understanding of numbers, they provide leadership with in-depth analysis. Exceptional communicators, they simplify complex financial insights. Many analysts have a background in investment banking.

The Strategist:
At the executive level, they facilitate strategic decisions by quantifying and qualifying options. Value creation is their core focus, leveraging expertise gained from management consulting. Strategists assess and guide the direction of the company.

The Technologist:
They are the catalysts of digital transformation, utilizing cutting-edge technology across the organization. With a deep understanding of the impact of technology on business, they optimize efficiency. Technologists often come from digital-first companies, bringing valuable expertise to the table.

The Disruptor:
A trailblazer who sets trends and embraces innovative business models. They actively engage with external stakeholders and skillfully benchmark against diverse industries. With experience across various functions and sectors, they bring a creative problem-solving approach.

The Networker:
A C-suite relationship-builder who excels at listening and leveraging insights to help others succeed. They adeptly orchestrate teams and delegate tasks, achieving results through collaboration. Their past career may have sparked an entrepreneurial spirit.

The Adaptor:
A driver of execution, they thrive on efficient processes and systems. They prioritize impactful tasks and initiatives, propelling the company forward while building a robust and adaptable tech platform. With leadership experience in different business units, they ensure effective implementation.

The Environmentalist:
A well-connected policy expert who considers the quadruple bottom line: social, environmental, and financial factors. Committed to long-term value creation and community contribution, they emphasize sustainability in decision-making. Previous experience may include NGOs or government roles.

These distinct CFO types bring unique strengths to the table, shaping the financial landscape and driving organizational success.


What it takes to be a successful CFO today

No role is evolving faster than that of the CFO. As leaders, CFOs need to wear multiple hats to succeed in the job today.
Most of the successful CFOs we work with are a mix of inspirational people leaders, digital leaders, and long-term value leaders able to adapt to the changing needs of their company.

These kinds of CFOs are change agents who can drive talent and culture, accelerate digitization, and create long-term value for multiple stakeholders.

A trend we’re seeing is that, because the demands on the CFO are changing so fast, people who aren’t able to adapt, often end up leaving. In fact, we’re noticing that the length of the current CFO tenure is decreasing in general compared to other CXO roles.
That’s why at Amergin we recognize that there is no “one size fits all” CFO nor would we wish there to be.

Variety and diversity are keys to organisational success at all levels.
We believe CFOs are capable of being inspirational people leaders, working seamlessly across the organisation, and driving the talent and culture agenda in Finance by being motivational change agents.

CFOs should also be important digital leaders, driving bold, and innovative strategies to accelerate the digitisation of Finance.

We also think CFOs can be long-term value leaders by leading changes in how we measure and communicate corporate value, moving away from short-term reporting towards long-term value thinking.

No one CFO fits neatly into any single “type” but should be able to flex between different behaviours, according to the specific needs of the company at different times.

What do you think about the examples above, do these types make sense for how you see the CFO role today? And are there any you’d add or take away?

Take your CFO role to new heights. Embrace the changing landscape of finance and lead with versatility.

Learn more about how Amergin can support your journey as a modern CFO. Visit our website and explore our resources today.