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Clarity of vision for an FD means delegation

We’ve written before on the shifting responsibilities of the FD, from a counter of beans to strategist. But we haven’t addressed the FD’s need for delegation, and why it’s important.

Apart from running his company, BenBlomerleyis part-time CFO for Quick Release, a managed services provider. As a part-time CFO, he has more requirement than most to delegate appropriately – in fact, he’d delegate himself into obsolesce, if he could.

It starts, he says, with an appreciation for his strengths and limitations. “I don’t get heavily involved in the day-to-day. I try and make sure that things happen at the right levels.

My job is as overseer, because the specific team on each client know best. It’s about visibility [on each project] – and how I don’t have it.”

Blomerleypaints a picture of his organisation, with him as nexus, surrounded by account managers and client-facing finance staff. He is a ‘decision maker’, literally, giving commands and steering the finance team, but not involved in the nitty-gritty.

As a meeting-point for the finance team,Blomerleymakes sure that everyone is happy and working without issue.

However, while he may lack this extensive knowledge of the actual financial logistics of the organisation: he does understand how things are working. He makes use of this knowledge in board meetings, providing a type of knowledge not easily accessible to other sections of the business.

He sees this as the idealised function of a CFO, who by definition should act as a ‘head’ to the ‘body’ of a finance team. “I’m pretty close to [the ideal]; a CFO best functions when you don’t get involved in day-to-day processing. It has to be the right person doing the right job; working [as an accountant] at Ernst and Young, I discovered this and was impressed by how strategic they thought.”

By segregating people into clearly defined roles, a CFO can move most of their attention toward leadership and strategy – the latter an increasingly important part of the modern chief finance officer. Clarity of vision is important for such an executive individual – which means leaving the bean counting to everyone else.

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