Kevin Appleby is joined by GrowCFO’s Founder and CEO Dan Wells to discuss CFO training and how GrowCFO tries to cater for everyone’s needs in their training programmes.
Why was there not a good place to go to to get all of your CFO training together?
This links to why GrowCFO was set up. A lot of finance leaders asked Dan where they could go for CFO training and he had a look to see if there was anything on google etc. It was really hard to find anywhere. There were random courses and videos but nothing that pulled it all together. No businesses were dedicated to training CFOs.
There is no CFO qualification, but GrowCFO has built a syllabus so that this doesn’t have to be the case. Lots of training programmes for accountants at the start of their career can be found. These can be helpful but people have different needs and require a different skillset to become a finance leader. As a head of finance or financial controller, you are the inward face of finance. Whereas, when you become CFO you are the outward face of finance. This is a very different set of skills. You are trained for the inward-facing roles but never the outward-facing ones.
Most people who are delivering a proper CFO role spend at least 60% of their time on delivering strategy and change. We expect this to accelerate because over time a lot of the operational tasks will become automated. In 2 or 3 decades time, it is expected, this will look more like 95% of people’s time. Being a good right-hand to the CEO and being a valued member of the board requires strategy, confidence and the right skills to influence people and act as a leader.
Why is GrowCFO’s CFO training so helpful?
Often you are facing problems for the first time once you are already in the role which is why the way GrowCFO is laid out is so helpful. You can search for the topics you need to help you through the challenge. This will then show you relevant events, workshops and podcasts that will help you with this topic.
Some people like the structure of a programme and going through it at a steady pace. Others prefer having quick access for when they need it and it gives them a safety net to know they have everything at their fingertips.
CFO roles are often very different. Kevin describes the three types of CFOs he has identified; the operational CFO, the strategic CFO and the Wall Street CFO. People are increasingly coming to the CFO role from different backgrounds. Depending on what routes they come from, people will be very strong at certain aspects of the role, however, there will always be gaps.
The GrowCFO Competency Framework allows you to scan across all of the skills you need to be a successful CFO and identify where your gaps are. The GrowCFO Competency Framework is something that GrowCFO has built in the past couple of years. It takes the perspective of people across the entire ecosystem. It consists of 9 competencies with 5 skills within each competency. People use our rating guidance pdf to determine whether they are at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level against each of the 45 skills. They are then provided with a benchmarking report to see where they rank for each skill against their peer group. There will then be links to multiple of the activities for each skill. You can take the competency assessment at https://www.growcfo.net/the-growcfo-competency-framework/
How would you define a peer group?
There are many different types of CFOs and people are also at different stages in their careers. We split the peer groups in two ways. It is easy to benchmark depending on what stage they are at in their career. This could be aspiring CFOs who are 3-5 years out from landing their first role. It could also be first-time CFOs who have been in the role for less than 3-5 years. Or, more experienced CFOs who may develop gaps as the role evolves. We look at the ownership structures of businesses, the sizes of the companies and the industry boots.
This benchmark can very clearly show you where you are above and below the average of someone at your level at each of the skills. It also very clearly shows where your biggest gaps are. People could alternatively look to strengthen their strongest areas further. The skills you focus most on will depend on the direction you want to take your career. Focus on being very good at the things that are relevant to your role and not trying to be good at everything as it is unrealistic.
Some people are happy to work within the platform, which they can do within their GrowCFO premium subscription. Others may want to go a step further and get involved in a programme that is very structured and easy to work through. People could also benefit more from one-to-one professional mentoring. Everyone is in control of their CFO training.
The CFO qualification certificate was requested early on into GrowCFO. Anyone who does the Future CFO Programme or the CFO Programme will get a certificate at the end. This can be put in the qualification section of your LinkedIn profile and in your CV. This shows others you are motivated, aware of your gaps and you are working hard to address them. It will really make you stand out in your peer group.
GrowCFO’s training programmes focus on support
GrowCFO does not only focus on training but also offers support. This is done by allowing questions to be asked and having interactions with the members. A lot of a CFO’s challenges are not black and white and there is no right or wrong answer, it therefore helps to be able to ask specific questions.
You have a chance to ask people in your peer group how they would deal with the challenges you are facing. They can also provide you with experiences of how certain things worked for them. This could extend to help with finance systems, for example, if you wanted to automate something or how they have done something before. The Finance Systems Survey really shows what people are using and what they like.
Training doesn’t just mean structured courses but also includes having a chance to talk to your peers and other experts. The Situation Room held on every other Friday gives you a chance to voice your challenges. Here there is usually someone who can give you an insight or advice as to what you could try.
Find out more about GrowCFO
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GrowCFO is a great place to extend your professional network. You can join GrowCFO as a free member today and take part in our regular networking events and webinars.
Premium members also have access to our extensive training centre. Here you can enrol in our flagship Future CFO or Finance Leader programmes.
You can find out more and join today at growcfo.net