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NelsonHall Takes Transformational Approach to the Role of the CFO

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The nature of finance & accounting is changing rapidly with the advent of new technologies. RPA has already shown its potential to reduce transactional F&A costs by 20% while improving quality of service and the application of cognitive technologies over the next few years will multiply this existing impact several times over. And, with the advent of machine learning, the processes will increasingly be knowledge-based and self-learning.

And, at the same time that basic accounting processes are being automated, so is financial reporting and analytics. Here, natural language generation coupled with analytics is leading to automatic reporting and interpretation of results while predictive and prescriptive analytics are increasingly identifying appropriate company behavior.

Finally, as the operational accounting and reporting processes become automated, the outsourcing vendors are increasingly moving upstream into financial planning and analysis.

So, the nature of finance & accounting is undergoing dramatic transformation. But can the same be said for the role of the CFO? So far this seems to be relatively unchanged, and we believe the time is right for a corresponding transformation.

Hence, NelsonHall tasked its HR department to identify a new CFO for the modern age. In the spirit of design thinking and achieving 10X impact, we thought, “Why not change the role, so that involvement with the CFO, rather than increasing the stress of all concerned (as has often been our experience due to the usual requests for budget cuts and increased performance), actually lowered the stress of all concerned and enhanced the mental health of the organization?”. This would be a truly transformational outcome.

So we set out with a charter to change the role of the CFO from stress-inducing to stress-reducing and to measure the falls in blood pressure of personnel after encounters with the CFO. And while we don’t yet have definitive quantitative results, I think we can confidently assert that this approach is working in the initial pilots.

We decided to look beyond the CFO stereotype of someone with traditional finance skills and a laser focus on analysis, reporting and control. In fact (and this might be a useful tip for executive recruitment agencies), we used the latest thinking in talent acquisition and “consumerized” our hiring process. The result was a generation Z hire (born after 2000) who displays none of the uptight characteristics normally associated with a CFO. We believe he’s a real cool cat.

His background is unknown (background checking was something of an issue), but then why adopt traditional hiring techniques when you are seeking to be transformational? Having said that, he is street-wise and knows what he wants out of his career and life in general.

In terms of daily routine, he turns up for work at about 07.30 in the morning. He commences his duties in corporate stress reduction by welcoming each employee with a purr, and following a breakfast (we presume his second breakfast) he purrs even more. Purring actually has healing properties – it makes the human heart-rate slow down, it lowers blood pressure and stress, and it boosts the immune system, enabling humans to better cope with the day-to-day tasks. So, a truly transformational impact in the role of the CFO.

We thought you might be interested to find out more about our CFO (Chief Feline Officer) Leo’s typical day in the office, so we have outlined this below as an example to all organizations considering taking this approach:


07.30: Leo arrives at work, bright eyed and bushy tailed, looking forward to his second breakfast.


07.31: “Let me in please……I want my second breakfast.” He’s keen.


07.35: “That’s better……I feel I can start the day how I mean to go on.”


07.45: “Now what shall I do?......That’s a nice photograph of me……I’m quite handsome, aren’t I?” Who said CFOs were posers?


08:00: Zzzzzz


11.30: “Is it lunch time yet?......Oh well, I might go back to sleep!”


14.00: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


15:00: “Not impressed with the task list for today……anyway, we’ve gone digital, so I don’t need this paper, but it’s great to sit on!  Maybe I’ll get some more sleep.”


17:30: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz


18:30: Time to leave, but this guy is a workaholic. “The only way you're going to get me out of the door is to feed me some more cat biscuits!”


We hope that this brief case study shows you how you might adapt the role of the CFO within your own organization to achieve a truly transformational impact on corporate well-being.

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