Finance and accounting leaders: A strategic force

by Jim EtlingRyan Morgan and Sydney Olszewski

Take a look at the world’s best organizations and you’ll find they have at least one thing in common: a world-class finance and accounting team. So why have leaders in this function historically been viewed as overhead? To those on the outside looking in, these individuals are just at their desks hunched over the books, budgeting, forecasting and staying distanced from organization-wide decision making. Finance and accounting is much more than that.

Take a minute to reflect on your company. Has growth been significant and consistent? Are your employees confident they’ll be paid on time? You have your finance and accounting team to thank for that.

As we continue to work with top finance and accounting talent across a variety of industries, we’ve noticed these individuals consistently embody a strategic force in their organizations. Here’s why:

  • Finance and accounting leaders can drive your organization’s most ambitious goals.
    • The myth: Finance and accounting leaders often shoot down ideas for innovative products, services or growth; they lack creativity.
    • The truth: Coming to this department for consultation is often the first step to getting projects off the ground, because they can back up new, transformative ideas with the important facts and data that keep an organization on a path to growth, instead of slipping in the other direction.
  • Finance and accounting professionals don’t always come from a traditional background.
    • The myth: Finance and accounting leaders all follow a similar career path, starting and finishing in the world of finance.
    • The truth: In today’s world, we’re seeing finance and accounting leaders come from unconventional backgrounds. Consultants and investment bankers are often transitioning into these roles, bringing with them the unique ability to provide data-backed strategic thinking. They hold a business-first mindset, which is a leading factor in their success.
  • Individuals outside the function want finance and accounting leaders to be recognized as the strategic force they are.
    • The myth: An organization’s leadership team can see the value their finance and accounting team brings to the table, but they’re fine with them being in the “back office.”
    • The truth: We’ve seen first-hand that executives want to change the way finance is viewed in their organization. They want it to be seen as a value-add function that creates business partnerships while aligning financial strategy to overall company strategy. In fact, the talent profile we’re being asked to find now versus three years ago has significantly shifted. Companies want to get creative with where their finance and accounting leaders come from.

The finance and accounting function is essential to any successful organization. It’s no longer just scorekeeping; it consists of strategic, consultative professionals who are critical to the success and growth of an organization.


Get in touch with Charles Aris Inc., the InterSearch Worldwide member firm in the USA with offices in Washington DC and Greensboro NC.

Finance and accounting leaders: A strategic force

2 min

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