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The Role of the CFO in Business Resilience

When COVID struck, businesses looked to their CFOs to steady the ship. Emma Carroll explores how the best Finance leaders also acted with the necessary pace and creativity to secure opportunities for future growth.
The UK was three months into lockdown when Criticaleye brought together senior leaders to discuss how they had navigated the first weeks of the crisis. They shared the challenges, pitfalls and also their hopes as they worked to build resilience for the future.
Key points included:
  • The CFO must create the space to think and bring in external insight, even in the middle of this crisis
  • CFOs need to be aware of what the ‘killer blow’ is that could destroy their business. They must keep reassessing this and make sure the rest of the business is aware
  • Cutting costs sooner and deeper protects the business and allows you to retain the opportunity to re-invest in the future at a later date
  • Performance information in a crisis needs to be real time, less formal and prioritise speed over perfection
  • Chairs and CEOs are looking for creativity from their CFOs, in terms of securing new sources of funding, external learnings, opportunities for growth and insightful data
  • CFOs need to secure the cash to protect the organisation in the worst-case scenario. But once that is done, and if they are confident in the business, they should then consider calling on debt or equity to protect and win profitable market share
  • This is no time for hierarchy or one-to-one conversations. The Chair, CEO and CFO must be open and work things out together
Including Commentary From:
Patrick Butcher, CFO, Capita Plc: “As CFO, even in the middle of all the noise you’ve got to create space to think... I’ve got to carve out time to do the thinking that allows us to bridge short-term conversations, which are vital for survival, with the longer term."

Mike Tye, Chair Moto Hospitality Group and Board Mentor, Criticaleye: "I look to my CFOs for creativity about the options that lie ahead. This is all new, and so the creativity of a CFO and their team is fundamental to how successfully you will come out the other side... Creativity comes from changing your routines, rhythms, sources of data and looking at completely different sectors for new insight.”

Patrick Butcher will be among the speakers at  Community articles are produced directly by and for the Criticaleye Community.

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Emma Carroll
Managing Editor

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