CFO risk concerns

The challenge for CFOs in 2021: Managing risk amidst renewed optimism

The CFO role continues to expand. With their unique financial viewpoint, the CFO is influencing strategy and identifying opportunities while managing risk.

Through our work with clients spanning all sectors and various sizes, we saw firsthand how leaders and organizations pivoted in 2020 to the urgent – addressing numerous challenges and risks, along with new opportunities. For the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in particular, the pandemic demonstrated how much this role has expanded beyond just the numbers, including the critical role of responding to change while managing an organization’s overall risk.

As 2021 presses on, our clients are balancing renewed optimism with ongoing risk. Today’s CFO is not only responsible for their company’s past and present financial situation, but they are also a vital player in future growth.

The CFO role continues to go beyond the numbers and compliance. The CFO influences company strategy and needs to identify opportunities and minimize risk. We think these two areas are a good starting point.

People and workforce

We hear from clients that talent and workforce remain critical areas of concern this year. CFOs play an important role in helping the organization assess their current business environment. Armed with that analysis, the organization can determine where strengths or weaknesses exist in the HR function.

An HR audit is one way to evaluate whether your HR practices are benefitting or hindering your organization. It provides feedback about HR initiatives and their effect on business objectives. It can provide a road map for needed changes to HR policies, procedures, and metrics to boost performance of human capital in the organization. The value they provide can yield a significant return on time and resources invested into this process. Five areas to consider include:

  1. Compliance: Are your policies and practices compliant with state and federal regulatory requirements?
  2. Total compensation: Are your policies and practices related to comp and benefits competitive to attract and retain talent?
  3. Recruitment and onboarding strategies: Are your recruitment practices reaching the right pool of talent?
  4. Learning and development practices: Are your learning and development practices addressing future talent and leadership gaps?
  5. Employee engagement and communication: Are you effectively engaging employees to effect retention of your employees?

CFOs can help the organization’s HR function by providing analytical oversight to ensure the proper opportunities are exploited and certain risks managed.

Technology and information security

Today’s reliance on technology to execute critical business processes, including financial ones, introduces significant risk. Cybersecurity continues to be one of the top five risks of a corporation, and CFOs need to learn and build the competencies to successfully address this existential challenge.

Use the following five questions to begin assessing the current state of your organization and where potential problem areas exist.

  1. To what extent are business goals reliant on data and technology?
  2. How much information and communications technology assets does the company own and are any assets missing?
  3. What safeguards have been established over systems connected to the internet to protect the organization from loss, damage and disclosure?
  4. Do you conduct an information security risk assessment on a regular basis?
  5. Is information security considered a priority or an afterthought during business strategy and planning activities?

CFOs can help the organization better manage its information risk and by doing so, help manage business risk.

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In summary

The opportunity for CFOs to drive strategy, identify strengths, and manage weaknesses in critical areas such as HR and IT help the overall organization. With their unique financial viewpoint, CFOs add value to the process which results in improved performance and managed risk.

Congratulations to each of this year’s CFO of the Year honorees and to the companies they help lead. AGH is proud to sponsor the Wichita Business Journal’s CFO of the Year awards honoring these CFOs who lead and advance their organizations.

If you’d like additional information on either of these topics, contact the appropriate AGH professional below.

Carrie Cox

Vice President
HR & Org. Development Services

Carrie has experience in a variety of human resource functions, including labor laws, compensation structures, employee classification, benefits administration, performance management and human resource best practices. She has served clients in a number of industries, including manufacturing, construction, banking, government, and not-for-profits. Carrie is a member of the national and local chapters of the Society of Human Resource Professionals (SHRM) and serves on the Wichita chapter board of directors.

She is a certified practitioner for the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® and the Hay Group’s Emotional and Social Competency Inventory. Her additional certifications include Certified Professional Coach from the Academy of Creative Coaching, Professional in Human Resources (PHR) from the Human Resource Certification Institute, and SHRM-CP designated by the SHRM.

Brian Johnson

Senior Vice President
Technology Services

Brian joined AGH in 1992. He leads the firm’s technology services practice where he helps clients achieve measurable performance improvements through the delivery of specialized, competency-based information systems management, assurance, and advisory services. He has extensive experience in information security, network engineering, and solution development, with recognized specializations in governance, risk, control, and related consulting services.

Brian is a member of ISACA (previously known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association), the Kansas Society of Certified Public Accountants (KSCPA), the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the AICPA’s Information Management and Technology Assurance (IMTA) Section, and the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM). He is a Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Security Manager (CISM), Certified in the Governance of Enterprise IT (CGEIT), Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control (CRISC), Certified Data Privacy Solutions Engineer (CDPSE), and Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM).

Brian is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and a graduate of Wichita State University, where he earned Master of Accountancy and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees.

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