What Type of CFO are You?

A CFO’s ability to implement change, whether that be introducing new accounting software, negotiating discounts with key suppliers, or changing the business’ capital structure, can be greatly dependent on how they approach decision making.

However, not all CFOs are created equal. While there is a wealth of factors that contribute towards a CFO’s ability to make a decision, their personality type can be a crucial aspect, not only in driving innovation but also in contributing towards the business’ bottom line.

To explore these characteristics further, Barclaycard undertook research to delve deeper into the impact of different CFO personality types. The research identified that CFOs fall into four decision-making typologies; Trailblazers, Explorers, Conformists and Resourceful Traditionalists.

But what type of CFO are you? And how might your leadership style be impacting your business?

The Trailblazer – leading from the front to drive business growth

Are you motivated to trial new forms of technology and keen to implement improved processes? If you understand the importance of decisiveness, imagination and ambition when making important business decisions, you’re a Trailblazer CFO.

Trailblazer CFOs pioneer and adopt new technologies to help drive business growth. As part of this, they look to their accounts payable software to help them achieve their business goals. And it pays off, particularly regarding access to ‘early payment discounts’ – pre-agreed discounts for paying suppliers earlier than their standard payment terms.  Our research found that businesses with Trailblazer CFOs at the helm are significantly outperforming their peers; on average, they capitalise on almost 98% of the early payment discounts available, equating to savings of £82,818 per business each year.

The Explorer – searching for new and improved technologies to steer the ship forward

Do you constantly find yourself evaluating your business’ next technology or process? If so, you could be an Explorer CFO. Explorer CFOs are those prepared to consider alternative technologies, and willing to test new software and processes with pilot projects and trials.

Explorer CFOs are those prepared to consider alternative technologies, and willing to test new software and processes with pilot projects and trials.

It’s not all full steam ahead, however. The one thing holding these Explorers back is a degree of caution when it comes to converting these ambitions into action. The CFO has an increasing responsibility for advocating and piloting the new technologies that will help their organisation to achieve its goals. Explorers that do take the leap will find new opportunities to maximise efficiency and make cost savings, with our research indicating that they could tap into as much as £36,200 in unrealised early payment discounts for their business, each year.

 The Conformist – sitting comfortable but reluctant to change

Conformists rely on tried and tested systems and practices and are reluctant to adopt newer approaches and technologies. However, sitting still may mean that their business misses out on upgrades and innovations that could otherwise impact potential savings and support business growth.

 Highlighting this, Barclaycard research found that Conformist CFOs typically take advantage of only 52% of the early payment discounts available, securing an average of £68,478 per business each year – the lowest of all four CFO personality types. Many Conformist CFOs told us that their finance system does not even allow them to take advantage of early payment discounts in the first place.

 The Resourceful Traditionalist – optimising familiar processes   

Do you prefer refining and perfecting tried and tested processes and systems, rather than trying something new? If so, it’s most likely that you’re a Resourceful Traditionalist. Tending to place the emphasis on insights gained from previous experiences, Resourceful Traditionalists are likely to stick to what they know. They are more risk-averse, too; Resourceful Traditionalists are more likely than the other personality types to factor in potential risks and uncertainties when making key financial decisions.

The role of a modern CFO goes so far beyond reporting and managing day-to-day finances – it’s about actively driving profit by exploring new technologies to secure greater efficiencies, such as early payment discounts.

While this may not all be bad news, it does mean that you could be missing out on the many benefits of investing in accounting software that accurately reflects the needs of your business today. In fact, our research identified that nearly half (48%) of finance leaders are frustrated that their current finance systems are not sufficiently digitised, with four in ten (40%) saying that they are too labour intensive.

The impact that your ‘type’ could have on your business

The role of a modern CFO goes so far beyond reporting and managing day-to-day finances – it’s about actively driving profit by exploring new technologies to secure greater efficiencies, such as early payment discounts.

Those that embrace these new technologies, following in the footsteps of Trailblazer CFOs, can not only achieve tangible savings, they can also reduce paperwork and streamline the way their business operates.

Those that are slower to make the shift to new technologies could risk being left behind – and what CFO wants that?

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