Of the 6 types of CFO personalities, this is the worst performer

When traditionalist CFOs are forced to make technology-based decisions, they can hurt their business’ ability to grow and remain competitive, according to a new survey.

Epicor Software surveyed 1,500 financial experts and researchers to determine that CFOs fall into six distinct categories: politicians (27%), revolutionaries (19%), carers (19%), conductors (16%), traditionalists (9%), and visionaries (9%).

CFOs characterised as traditionalists tend to lead companies with the least profit growth. The survey found that traditionalists increase profits by 56%, compared to a survey average of 64%.

Here are the six CFO types and how they interact with technology needs in positive and negative ways:

  • Traditionalists: These CFOs work inside of existing systems, and they prefer not to allow reputation and personalities to guide their decision-making process. This group of CFOs is also the least likely to acknowledge the need for change in technology systems. When asked about IT systems, only 14% of this group said updates were needed.
  • Revolutionaries: This group will gladly consider a change in culture and structures as needs arise. In this group less structured approaches are accepted, and CFOs will work outside of formal systems and processes and take risks when needed. According to the study, “48% of revolutionaries say the IT support they get is inadequate — a sentiment shared by only 36% of their peers.” These men and women are the mavericks of the CFO space.
  • Politician: This is the most common type of CFO personality with 27% of CFOs falling into this role. These CFOs are methodical and believe strongly in a team-based approach. When it comes to making decisions these CFOs will consult widely with staff on important decisions. As the report finds, decisions may be delayed because of these CFOs. On a positive note, because they believe in strong collaboration (27% vs. 22% sample average), they would likely support technology changes if collaborative talks suggest that changes are needed.
  • Conductor: These CFOs will bend the rules and work outside of normal systems and processes. They tend to make more decisions based on gut-feel over hard data (54% vs. 46% sample average). Conductors have an “average view” of their IT systems, and are most likely to say their system is easy to use (35% vs. 30% sample average).
  • Carer: This CFO personality type will delay a decision if there is a risk of mistakes. Over half (52%) of carers said they would rather delay a decision than have inaccurate data. In comparison, only 44% of their peers feel the same way.
  • Visionary: This CFO works completely outside of formal systems, and they like to make decisions based on their own experiences and intuition. This group is the least likely to care about having enough time or resources to surface meaningful insights (26% vs. 18% sample average) and embrace change. This group also supported team-based decision making, and they demand IT systems changes with 27% believing they should invest in a new system soon (vs. 17% sample average).

“The time to update business systems is before the organisation outgrows them and before they start to erode the operational and financial health of an organisation,” says Malcolm Fox, vice president of product marketing for Epicor.

He warns, “To this end, it’s not surprising traditionalists — who were the least likely of all the CFO personas to acknowledge any need for change when it comes to technology systems — also tended to lead companies that were experiencing less profit growth than other CFOs in their peer group.”

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