Navigating the pandemic – thoughts for the modern CFO

For the majority of CFO’s in the Covid-19 climate, the spotlight is upon them. The pandemic presents shrinking balance sheets, growing risks, and challenges to the supply chain, meanwhile with the increasing pressure of being judged by how they act during this tumultuous time towards their employees and shareholders. What’s more, the CFO must continue to deliver the unvarnished truth, even if it‘s painful, with unquestioned integrity. 

Taking a more positive spin on the situation, many finance leaders will see this as an opportunity to seize the chance of leveraging their leadership through short-term survival and long-term success, as well as put themselves ahead of their competitors and position their business for future growth. However, what remains absolutely certain in all this, is that the CFO must play a mission-critical role in the protection of their company and workforce.

An issue of CFO Insights by Deloitte highlights six imperatives that can help CFO’s through this time:

  1. Prepare for talent disruption and virtualize your organization by providing resources for your talent and making clear how people should support one another, and by virtualizing the finance function and other parts of the organization to operate effectively amid social distancing
  2. Bolster liquidity by managing short-term credit, cash, and performance needs
  3. Communicate frequently with critical stakeholders to keep them informed
  4. Drive operational improvements necessary to navigate the sharp downturn
  5. Manage risks and serve as stewards of company assets during this vulnerable time
  6. Plan for recovery post the COVID-19 crisis by strategically positioning and utilizing assets.

Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, what appears to be paramount is the level of planning needed to consider a range of scenarios from worst to best case, taking into consideration talent, operations, suppliers, customers, and other key stakeholders.  The continued tenure of the Covid-19 disruption is ultimately unknown, therefore CFOs in companies with a strong balance sheet and cash reserves are well-positioned to seize opportunities to innovate and gain the most traction in the recovery period.

Walter James CFO Practice is one of the fastest-growing practices within the WJ Group and works with organisations ranging from blue-chip, PE, SME’s and family-owned private companies. To date, we have worked on finance assignments across 34 countries with a core focus of developing innovation in finance through a true business partnering based leadership approach that embraces and drives digital, diversity, and next-generation technology.

By Jess Carling


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