What Characterizes a Successful CFO, by Gary McGaghey

“What makes a successful Chief Financial Officer?” This is a question that many may ask themselves, but what are the qualities of an ideal CFO? Gary McGaghey, a renowned global expert in strategic finance and corporate social responsibility, has some insights into the role.

The CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, is often a vague position in many organizations. There is a lack of clear understanding of what the CFO does, and some believe that CFOs only take care of financial transactions.

It is usually the most junior person in an organization who will fill this role, and they may not have the required experience to fulfill this position, especially if they are part of a start-up environment.

Gary McGaghey is a renowned global expert in strategic finance and corporate social responsibility. He is currently the CFO of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Learn more about Gary McGaghey

According to McGaghey it’s essential to understand that there are different levels of experience in many organizations, so a weak CFO cannot be replaced by a strong one. Instead, all staff members need to work together and support each other to strengthen the company as a whole.

The right personality for a successful CFO is hard to determine, but there are qualities that can contribute to an ideal candidate. McGaghey believes that, ideally, a CFO will be a highly ethical leader who has the following qualities:

  • A good understanding of business management and finance.
  • A high level of professionalism.
  • Good communication skills in order to liaise with multiple stakeholders.

After all, the CFO is supposed to be the CEO’s right-hand man or woman, so they need to understand their role and how it impacts the company both financially and culturally. A good CFO is a very diverse person. For example, they will have to understand the different roles and responsibilities in an organization, and they may have to learn how to navigate in a different way.

In order to be successful, it is crucial that the CFO consistently seeks interactions with other stakeholders and that their needs are considered. It’s vital for them to show that they are active so that other people understand that everything is being done for them.