What Every CFO Wished Their Marketing Leader Understood

June 27, 2023


Do you and your chief financial officer ever butt heads? Welcome to The Marketing Accelerator Podcast, featuring three insights in about three minutes. I'm Drew Dinkelacker.

Let's dive into the dynamics between Marketing Leaders and CFOs and how understanding each other's roles can lead to better collaboration. I interviewed four CFOs who shared what they wished their Marketing Leaders understood about the CFOs' role in business. Here are direct quotes the CFOs told me: "You are the 10th person asking for money today." "I have difficulty holding leadership accountable, I'll be less patient with you." "I live with a reasonable amount of debt balance; your request moves my debt to an unreasonable amount." "I look at issues from a financial perspective; I am trained, paid, expected, and held accountable for this insight." "Don't get mad at me when I do that." These quotes highlight the high-pressure environment that CFOs often operate in.

So now let's explore four common types of CFOs that you might encounter:

There's the numbers expert. This CFO is usually an internal hire with a deep understanding of the business and has risen through the financial ranks.

Then, there's the strategist. Typically hired from outside the finance department, this CFO brings experience from various verticals like operations, marketing, and general management; they focus on tightly run operations.

Then, there's the KPI advocate. This CFO is driven by KPIs - key performance indicators - and loves score cards. They're often hired from outside the organization to provide an unbiased perspective on data and operations.

And finally, there's the growth and development wizard. With extensive experience in mergers, acquisitions, private equity, and venture capitalism, this CFO aims to propel the company to new heights of success.

Understanding which profile or combination of profiles your CFO embodies will be valuable when communicating with them.

Now, let's go through some Do's and Don'ts to consider when dealing with your CFO:

Do recognize that most CFOs, well, they're detailed-oriented, which may contrast with visionary marketing leaders. When presenting your ideas, start with concrete facts before diving into abstract concepts to avoid any confusion.

Don't assume that your CFO wants to spend less on marketing; instead, focus on justifying your marketing initiatives to minimize risk.

Do acknowledge that CFOs receive many ideas without being asked for input beforehand; including them in the early stages of vision development can make them feel valued, and, well, appreciated.

If you're interested in engaging in further discussions on these topics, I facilitate a round table of Marketing VPs, Directors, and Managers, where we address these issues and more. This curated brain trust of marketing wisdom aims to accelerate Marketing Leaders to higher performance and increased job satisfaction. To learn more about the qualifying criteria, reach out to me. The Marketing Accelerator Podcast is a production of MarketingAccelerator.com. I'm your host Drew Dinkelacker.