Plotting a Path to Financial Excellence

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A simple diagnostic tool may help CFOs evaluate the finance function through fresh eyes.


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Corporate FinanceBain Finance Excellence

Digital disruption, investor activism, and a host of other forces are causing companies to look to their CFOs for more strategic support. And finance chiefs are more than happy when they’re playing a bigger role than corporate number cruncher. In fact, when Bain & Co. interviewed about 100 CFOs in 2015, we discovered that 41% would like to spend more time on strategic planning.

Many CFOs act as their companies’ internal challengers and proactively identify new opportunities. Automation of manual processes gives finance leaders more time and money to invest in strategic priorities, while advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and other developments enable them to make speedier, better-informed decisions.

Still, even today too many CFOs are devoting too much of their energy on activities that, while important for the business, don’t add strategic value. By overinvesting their time in reconciling reports or closing the books, for example, they don’t spend enough time on more important activities based on the company’s strategic priorities, such as supporting performance management, business planning, and M&A.

Bain developed its “Financial Excellence Diagnostic” to help CFOs take a critical step forward. This quick exercise identifies the specific capabilities that will enable a company to achieve financial excellence, based on its own unique position.


Laura Miles is a Bain & Company partner based in Atlanta who leads firm’s global Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Finance practices. Henrik Poppe is a partner in Bain’s Oslo office and global Corporate Finance leader.