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Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Greater Value.

Reinventing the CFO: How Financial Managers Can Transform Their Roles and Add Greater Value, by Jeremy Hope. Harvard Business School Press, 258 pages. $29.95.

Reinventing the CFO has lots of good things going for it, not the least of which is an effusive set of cover blurbs from CFOS themselves talking about "redefining the role of finance," "a wake-up call for CFOs and their colleagues" and "essential reading for individuals taking on the senior finance role."


Hope, an author and the research director of the Beyond Budgeting Round Table, a nonprofit that helps organizations improve their performance management processes, also chooses some fine examples of CFOs in diverse companies from around the world, among them Unilever, American Express, GE Capital, Cognos, Telecom New Zealand and the World Bank.

Then, too, he smartly divides the book into seven critical roles that the CFO must play. These are: freedom fighter, analyst and adviser; architect of adaptive management, warrior against waste; master of measurement; regulator of risk and champion of change. (All are alliterative, in case you hadn't noticed.) As he probes the practices of his example companies, he ties those into the seven roles, which his publicist likens to "the seven habits of a highly effective CFO." Checklists at the end of each chapter help distill some of the central lessons.

Yet, and yet ... Is what Hope is writing about so revolutionary? For years, CFOs have been hearing ad nauseum about how they have to learn new skills and new ways; they can no longer be just "the numbers people." Everywhere in the book is a sense that these messages are newly revealed; they aren't. Yes, the profiled CFOs have excelled at the various roles, but asking anyone to excel at all of them is certainly unrealistic.

Reinventing the CFO offers an excellent summary of the ways CFOs can add value, but it isn't a starburst in the night sky. It's more of a flashlight to help finance chiefs navigate the increasingly tangled terrain they call their own.
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Title Annotation:bookSHELF
Author:Marshall, Jeffrey
Publication:Financial Executive
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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