GEORGE OSBORNE, otherwise understood to be the FD of UK plc, is described as rating himself as a top strategist. Indeed, the broadsheets recently wrote of his clash with the prime minister’s chief strategist, Steve Hilton, over the pace of the reform agenda. Hilton is reportedly keen to accelerate while Osborne is more circumspect, viewing some of the agenda as too risky, especially while trying to resolve the issue of public sector pensions.
See what I’m getting at?
A couple of weeks ago, we staged the annual Financial Director Summit, the first event with me in charge as editor. It was a good day for learning about the readership and about the role FDs see themselves occupying. What came back to me was this issue of where FDs position themselves in the business.
Sure, they remain chief scorekeepers, ensuring the accounts are done. But there is the other issue of how FDs leverage their knowledge for the strategic good of their companies. This means going places the more old-school FD might avoid. We heard from Neil Forster, FD of Ingenious Media, who recounted how he spent hours on the set of Have I Got News for You, getting a feel for how the show is put together. The issue is getting to know from where the value came, and the purpose is to help the creatives take well-judged risks, or even push them to take these risks.
This was interesting. It seemed to take the role from gatekeeper, through facilitator, and into the area of instigator.
When I read about the chancellor, I now understand the parallel with the modern finance director. Osborne was never just going to keep the books. He wants a hand on the tiller, steering the strategic direction. He is somewhere between facilitator and instigator. It’s a delicate place to be, but clearly where the action is.
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