Andrew Sunderman, Chief Financial Officer at Direct Energy, discussed what it means to be a CFO during a Fireside Chat featuring Jeff Symes, Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer and Controller at FelCore Lodging Trust, at the 2015 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in Dallas on Sept. 17. During the chat, Sunderman pointed out that a finance department can provide a competitive advantage for a company.
Sunderman noted that there are many factors that help a business gain a competitive advantage from its finance department, including the department’s ability to price risk and raise capital at the right prices. In addition, he pointed out that there is constant competition in every industry, which makes it essential for businesses to find and retain top talent: “For us, it’s not only attracting the right talent but it’s more important for us to retain because we spend a lot of money and invest a lot of time and money into our employees. When one of them walks out the door you’ve lost a ton of productivity, you’ve lost a ton of knowledge, and it’s very expensive to find that again.”
Also, Sunderman said making employees feel valued is important to retain them for extended periods of time. Businesses must offer career growth opportunities as well, Sunderman said, to ensure they can keep their workers happy: “We’re very good at rotating people inside our company. We typically start looking to move somebody 18 to 24 months into an assignment. We certainly look to give them a lot of special projects that really stretch them outside of their core competencies. We also look to move them between more of the corporate finance roles and maybe the line of business finance roles to learn more about the business.”