CFOs need to behave like they own the business

Finance Indaba attendees heard that they need to take an entrepreneurial view of their organisations.

According to Discovery Health CFO Brett Tromp, most CFOs still think of themselves as just employees.

“You are part of a business, therefore, you have to change your thinking from employee to owner, it will make coming to work even more exciting,” says Tromp.

Tromp was part of a discussion at last week’s Finance Indaba on what makes an entrepreneurial CFO. He was joined on the panel by Jaguar Land Rover CFO Liaan Kretzschmar, and Sizwe Nkosi, CFO of Phembani Group.

Tromp encouraged CFOs to get out of their comfort zones and meet with other departments regularly to share their ideas on how to take the business forward. “Take a risk and put yourself out there. Being an entrepreneur and running a business is so much fun.”

Sizwe Nkosi, on the other hand, thinks that to be a successful entrepreneurial CFO, finance professionals have to be adaptable and stay on top of company, government changes and follow policy changes.

“When you think of a CFO, you think of financial reports and someone who implements the CEO’s strategy but to be an entrepreneurial CFO you have to be more than that,” explains Nkosi. “A good entrepreneurial CFO has to find opportunities in every environment even if there is change. You have to think about how to make sure that your products are still relevant given the economic climate and changes that are happening around us.”

Liaan Kretzschmar agrees, saying that CFOs have to adapt or die. Kretzschmar adds that for an entrepreneurial CFO to make it in a changing environment, they have to think carefully about what the upside or downside is of doing business in a particular way, but they mustn’t be too afraid to take risks.

“An entrepreneurial CFO is someone who is willing to have a go and listen to our proposals and even if they are outlandish they’re willing to go with it.”