The CFO’s Role in Executing the Business Plan in a Fast-Growing Business

The CFO’s Role in Executing the Business Plan in a Fast-Growing Business


Executing the business plan in a fast-growing business is the subject of February’s GrowCFO Best Practice Accelerator. Ahead of that, I’ve been taking a look at the CFO’s role in execution.

Fast-growing businesses face many challenges and opportunities in the dynamic and competitive market. One of the key roles that can help them navigate these complexities and achieve their growth objectives is the chief financial officer (CFO). The CFO is not only responsible for managing the company’s financial operations and reporting but also for providing strategic guidance and leadership to the business. In this article, we will explore how CFOs can play a vital role in executing the business plan in a fast-growing business by acting as strategic partners, growth drivers, and risk managers.

Where should the CFO focus attention?

According to an article by McKinsey & Company, the CFO plays a crucial role in the pursuit of growth for a company. The article discusses how CFOs can help drive growth by focusing on four key areas: resource allocation, performance management, M&A, and capital structure. By effectively managing these areas, CFOs can help their companies achieve sustainable growth and create long-term value.

CFOs as Strategic Partners

One of the main ways that CFOs can add value to the business is by becoming strategic partners to the CEO and the board. This means they must go beyond the traditional finance function and participate in the business transformation process. CFOs can establish a clear financial baseline, set and track key performance indicators (KPIs), and align the finance function with the overall business strategy and vision. By doing so, CFOs can help the business optimize its resources, measure its progress, and communicate its value proposition to the stakeholders.

CFOs as Growth Drivers

Another important role that CFOs can play in a fast growing business is to be growth drivers. This means that they have to support and enable the business to find and pursue new sources of growth, both organic and inorganic. CFOs can do this by providing insights into market trends, customer needs, and competitive advantages, assisting with financial planning and analysis, and guiding investment and funding decisions. By doing so, CFOs can help the business identify and capitalize on growth opportunities, diversify its revenue streams, and create a sustainable competitive edge.

CFOs as Risk Managers

A third essential role that CFOs can play in a fast growing business is to be risk managers. This means that they have to protect and preserve the financial health and reputation of the company, by mitigating the financial risks and uncertainties that come with growth. CFOs can do this by implementing robust controls, compliance, and governance systems, and by adopting agile and resilient approaches to deal with unexpected events. By doing so, CFOs can help the business avoid or minimize the impact of potential threats, such as currency fluctuations, regulatory changes, cyberattacks, and fraud, and ensure the continuity and stability of the business.

What do other thought leaders say about the CFO and growing a business?

CFO leading the growth lab team

In episode 65 of the GrowCFO Show, I had Felix Velarde as a guest. In his book “Scale at Speed”, Felix introduced the concept of the growth lab team. We discussed the CFO’s role in strategy and inside the growth lab.

Felix said that some important roles of a CFO in strategy are: –

  • Participating in the creation of ideas from the growth team and taking ownership of the ideas, helping to assess the context of any needed investment
  • Teaching people in the growth lab team about finances, profitability, and budgets to help them comprehend the financial consequences of their suggestions
  • Freeing up resources and budgets to enable the growth strategies to be executed –
  • Knowing the overall journey and strategy so they can properly allocate resources.

Felix goes into much more depth in his book “Scale at Speed” available on Amazon UK or

The CFO must say no to things not in the strategic plan.

Dr. Thomas D. Zweifel joined me on this week’s GrowCFO Show and gave some firm opinions about the CFO saying no.

Thomas emphasized that the CFO has a tremendously important role in strategy execution. He said the CFO needs to know what is in scope and what is out of scope for the strategy, and have the courage to say no to activities that were useful in the past but are now obsolete. Drawing this distinction between what aligns with strategic intent and what does not is one of the things the CFO is responsible for, according to Thomas.


In conclusion, CFOs have a critical role in executing the business plan in a fast growing business, by being strategic partners, growth drivers, and risk managers. CFOs can leverage their financial expertise, analytical skills, and strategic vision to help the business overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities that come with growth. To do this effectively, CFOs need to collaborate with the other business functions, embrace innovation and technology, and foster a culture of learning and improvement. By doing so, CFOs can maximize the strategic value for their companies and create a lasting impact.

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