Sas Mukherjee, Executive Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Strategy Officer at York Risk Services Group, explored the role of the CFO and how it continues to change in his keynote presentation at 2017 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum in New York on November 14. In his presentation, “The Evolving Role of the CFO,” Mukherjee explained the unique role of the CFO in today’s global business landscape, as well as why a CFO must step up to steer key organizational decision-makers in the right direction.
According to Mukherjee, the CFO was once a “transactions-based role.” But the role of the CFO has changed into one that requires looking closely at a broad assortment of business data.
“The role of the CFO is between compliance and control and insights and efficiency,” Mukherjee stated. “The evolution of the CFO involves moving from more of a transaction-oriented role into more of an insights-based role.”
With a data-driven approach, CFOs gain deep insights into assorted business patterns and trends, allowing them the ability to offer actionable recommendations to their finance teams. As a result, CFOs can help foster collaboration and learning throughout a business, enabling more informed decision-making across all departments.
“The CFO role is grounded in data,” Mukherjee pointed out. “We really need to understand all the data within the organization … we’ve got to think about what the rest of the data in the organization is telling us about the organization.”
Although many CFOs dedicate significant time and resources to deploy state-of-the-art technologies, few CFOs maximize the value of technology.
“The role of the CFO is between compliance and control and insights and efficiency.”
In many instances, CFOs will search for the latest technologies for a one-time deployment. Yet few CFOs understand how to use technology to drive ongoing innovation.
“We’re not spending enough time on innovation,” Mukherjee noted. “There is a need for technology going forward … but we need to consider how much we are using the technology available to us.”
How a CFO approaches budgeting can have major effects on a business as well.
If a CFO focuses exclusively on business expenses he or she may struggle to identify opportunities that increase earnings. On the other hand, a CFO who emphasizes a revenue-centric approach to budgeting may be better equipped to help a company accomplish its earnings goals.
“We’re really good at budgeting for costs … but most CFOs are missing the top line,” Mukherjee said. “It’s very uncomfortable for business leaders to talk about revenues without talking about costs.”
Sometimes, a CFO will try to make decisions based on a “gut feeling.” This feeling may develop based on a CFO’s expertise and industry experience, but it may do more harm than good.
If a CFO leverages all of the data at his or her disposal, he or she gains unprecedented insights into a business, allowing for fast, informed decision-making.
“CFOs who are making decisions through gut feel aren’t necessarily making decisions any faster,” Mukherjee said. “The gut feel doesn’t make the CFO any more strategic about the business.”
Technology is a business enabler, and a CFO must continue to search for technologies that drive meaningful business improvements.
“There is a need for technology going forward … but we need to consider how much we are using the technology available to us.”
Merely deploying technology with the hopes of achieving meaningful business results is insufficient. Instead, a CFO must establish goals for technology deployments to ensure his or her company can get the most out of its technology investments. A CFO also should be able to utilize technology to perform comprehensive data analysis to obtain extensive business insights.
“Let’s leverage technology to support innovation and processes,” Mukherjee recommended. “That way, we’re more data-driven and more automated.”
A CFO can be a primary source for data analysis within a company. As such, this professional can play an important role in how a business operates.
“There are multiple business units that are trying to influence the CEO or board of directors. But [the CFO] can become a de-facto fact checker, because the [CFO] is grounded in data and grounded in reality,” Mukherjee said. “[The CFO] can really look at data across an organization [to drive business improvement].”
Lastly, a CFO must strive to build a culture that drives accountability and engagement. This culture will help a CFO create a meaningful work environment that promotes teamwork and innovation.
A meaningful work environment enables a CFO to bridge the gap between a business’ strategy and execution. Thus, a CFO who prioritizes culture may be able to help a company consistently attract and retain top talent, leading to meaningful results both now and in the future.
Sas is a visionary, C-level, cross-industry executive with 25+ years of experience, balanced between senior corporate executive roles as well as service provider/start-up executive roles – managing & delivering P&L growth in both roles. Sas is entrepreneurial, has a track record of success & passion in developing trusted advisory relationship with c-level executives in Fortune 500 as well as start-up companies globally to deliver exponential business & revenue growth while mentoring & coaching talent to build cohesive & high performing teams. Differentiated by deep insight of business, customer & market success, Sas enables technology & global sourcing to solve complex business problems to drive value, innovation & agility for stakeholders. Sas is a globalization advisor and built businesses and co-established service delivery capability and high quality talent pools in offshore locations (India, Japan, Philippines, Singapore, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Canada, Mexico etc.) to offer win-win results to global corporations.
Sas is currently the EVP, CFO and Chief Strategy Officer for York Risk Services Group, a portfolio company of Onex Corp, a leading global investment firm with $23 billion of capital under management. In total, Onex has investments in over 25 companies that collectively have $36 billion in assets, $23 billion in revenue, and 145,000 employees.
Prior to York, Sas was a Member of the Board of Advisors at a $250 MM Insurance/ Warranty Company which is in the Portfolio of a Private Equity Firm with $15 B in committed Capital.
Prior to this Sas was CFO and Head of Corporate Development for Serco Global Services, Americas, a division of the $8 B Serco Group, a FTSE 250 listed company. Serco Global Services was sold to the Blackstone Private Equity Group.
Sas led the US business of Intelenet Global Services, a global services company that was a Blackstone Private Equity portfolio company and was sold to Serco Group Plc at 12.5x EBITDA.
In the past Sas has been Divisional CFO and Executive Director of Strategy & Business Excellence for Kaiser Permanente, a $37 B integrated Health Delivery System.
Sas was also the President of niche globalization and business transformation advisory firms with clients such as Accenture, Ariba, and Dow Jones.
Sas has been a Partner/ Managing Director at a big 4 management consulting firm and advised the C-Suite of Fortune 500 companies such as Anheuser-Busch, Charles Schwab, Citibank, Gillette, Intel, Siemens, Walt Disney etc. on business transformation and globalization strategies.
Sas regularly advises institutional investors on industry trends and company valuations. Sas has been invited by foreign governments to consult on Medical Tourism and impact of US Healthcare Reform, Consulting, BPO and ITES Trends etc. Sas has been the author of numerous knowledge articles and an invited speaker to various industry events, conferences and university seminars as well as advisor to analyst firms and advisory board director for entrepreneurs. Sas is also the co-inventor of a patent pending internet deployable healthcare solution for consumers.
Sas is a Board Member at the San Francisco Chapter of Finance Executives International (FEI) and spearheads their International Expansion Program Series. Sas is also a co-founder and board member of the Global Ideas eXchange, a San Francisco based Thought Leadership not-for-profit Organization promoting awareness around globalization.
Sas is educated in Electrical Engineering, Finance/ Accounting and Management. Sas has lived in India, Singapore, and Europe. He has lived in the San Francisco bay area for the past 20 years.