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CFOs ,The Boardroom & 'Responsible Capitalism'

Posted on November 30, 2012 at 6:30 PM

Good news for boardrooms  - Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) in the UK at some of the world's largest companies are increasingly looking for boardroom roles at charities or cultural institutions, organisations that make a difference to society.

A report by Ernst & Young based on a global survey of 800 CFOs has found that 38% of UK CFOs are looking for such positions alongside their existing roles. A non-executive director (NED) role at a charity or a cultural institution was ranked as the most popular NED role, ahead of NED roles at other companies in the same sector, policy advising to government, or a chairman role.

Not only are UK CFOs more interested in taking on such roles than their global counterparts, but 15% already hold a position in the sector. Once they are done with their current CFO role, 46% say they would be interested in such positions.

This is interesting on so many different levels.

Not only does it bode well for supply and demand (79% of respondents agreed their financial expertise means they are more in demand than ever for all board level roles), but it's very good news for the building of a healthy society.

Les Clifford, E&Y Partner and chair of the CFO programme in the UK and Ireland sees the UK CFO response as " a positive and deliberate response to the spotlight that is increasingly been shone on business and their role in society, and the need for a more responsible capitalism."

That would be fantastic, if it turns out to be true. At the very least, it is a great trend for UK CFOs - to want to boost core skills while also benefiting from a different perspective.

Ritchy Drost is CFO for European Broadband Operations at Liberty Global, as well as being a member of the supervisory board of the Alzheimer Foundation. He says: "By spending time on the board of a very different institution, you gain a much better understanding of how groups work and how decisions get made. This has real practical benefit because you learn more about leadership, communication, group dynamics and all the other softer skills that are so critical to the CFO role today."

Now that's the kind of thinking we sometimes lose track of in the 'diversity' debate. Boardrooms are about bringing people together in the best combination for the best thinking for the job....and we should be open to more ways of exploring just how to do that in the best interests of the business, and of the people concerned.

Perhaps plcs now need to take it a step further,  making their 'retained' headhunters do some work for a change for their high fees - and match some worthy enterprises with these willing and 'soft-skill hungry' CFOs ?

And if I were an investor in a company I would be very interested to see what else the CFO did with his skills.

There are, of course, also statistics in the report about CFOs fnding themselves 'overstretched.' But look on the bright side - and you can order a copy of their report 'CFO and Beyond' (no Toy Story jokes please) from Ernst & Young by clicking here.

Categories: Behaviour, Headhunters, Appointments