Gain insights on business growth in our series of bite size chats with Business Leaders, brought to you by The FD Consultant.
We interview high achieving individuals who we believe everyone can learn from, and who bring insight into the many aspects of successfully growing a business.
Today we welcome our very own Ian Wyatt, CFO. Ian has been a CFO for many years and helped a variety of businesses on their growth journey.
We hope you find the Q&A with Ian interesting and insightful!
Hi Ian, how can a Chief Financial Office/Finance Director help a growing business?
The CFO role has so many facets, so this is not an easy answer. In short, a CFO supports businesses by working with senior management to drive the business forward using financial, strategic and commercial skills blended with experience.
What makes a good CFO?
For sure you are looking for the abilities with all things financial and the experience of having been there and done it, but there is so much more. Key for me and most critical to success are the people skills and emotional intelligence to work effectively at senior levels as well as oversee the finance team. Unfortunately these attributes are not always found in the finance community.
All CFO’s cannot be the same, some will have deep skills and experience in one area and others will cover the full range including commonly connected areas such as IT technology, change leadership, legal, property and HR.
To help a growing business, you need a CFO with vison but also grounded in structure. I would look for the CFO with the broad range of skills who is confident in a changing dynamic environment and comfortable with ambiguity. They must be able to react quickly to new information after fast analysis. Too often, a finance professional likes certainty, will over analyse and refuse to move until it is too late.
As noted above, people skills are key as change brings discomfort to many. Finally I would add the need for clear thinking, does the CFO know where the business is and where it is going? Like any journey if you do not know these two things, you will not reach your goal.
What are the benefits of a CFO consultant as opposed to a full time CFO?
A CFO consultant will bring the skills and experience of many assignments as well as the flexibility of advising as required without the full time cost. It is superb value for money. They will also have the dynamic mindset and change experience often not found in a permanent CFO.
Why are you so passionate about helping businesses succeed?
I am always motivated by working with people. It is that simple. Helping them to get the best out of themselves and the team as a whole. It is a joy to see colleagues grow and develop their skills. In all assignments, I look to leave a legacy of a well structured team capable of continuing on a growth path both individually and collectively.
Can you give us an example where you've exceeded a client's expectations?
My favourite project and example of complete client satisfaction was when working in France to re-engineer a business from point of sale to finance reporting. Very much an end-to-end project with upgraded, reimplemented systems as well as entirely new systems in places. A best of breed set up.
Key to success was a fully supportive leadership team and clear message of commitment from the CEO.
Notably we set the project up with an international team in support with full discussion and agreement of scope before we started in earnest. Hence we remained focussed and easily dealt with the odd blip along the way.
I led the project from start to finish completed in less than a year and bringing both operational efficiencies much improved information for management. It allowed the business to grow without equivalent staff increases so leveraging profitability.