The combined or hybrid roles of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and Chief Operating Officers (COOs) is not new but might be gaining momentum, at lease in certain types and sizes of organizations.
The CFO-COO is most often shortened in name to the CFOO, or Chief Financial & Operating Officer. As you might expect, the role includes all the traditional CFO responsibilities of financial reporting and compliance, with the addition of many traditional operations roles that might include IT and systems, HR, growth (sales and marketing), and truly any other duties as operations can be broad-based. This guide will introduce you to the role and explore how a CFOO can contribute to your business performance.
What Is a CFOO?
No question that larger organizations tend to separate the roles of the chief financial officer (CFO) and chief operating officer (COO). But small to midsize companies often have to rely on one individual who can handle both sets of responsibilities. Thus, you may often hear job titles that include:
- Chief financial & operating officer (CFOO)
- CFO-COO combination
The CFOO role (pronounced C-F-O-O or “C-foo”) offers a natural vantage point to survey the company’s overall organization and performance. It’s no wonder, then, that the CFOO often serves as a strategic partner to the company CEO, even more so than the CFO alone.
While the CEO and management team are responsible for crafting the company vision, the CFOO has a critical role in supporting the vision by providing the operational framework to make it happen.
In other words, the CFOO is where the rubber meets the road in terms of the implementation of corporate strategy.
How Common Are CFOOs?
CFOOs often operate in sectors that include healthcare, technology, and nonprofits. But a CFOO can be a valuable asset for any organization or industry.
Statistically speaking, the CFOO role is still a relatively small one, at least compared to the more common CFO and COO roles. According to LinkedIn, CFOs and COOs are generally evenly distributed, while CFOOs are still a minority:
- CFOs: 270,000 globally, 520,000 in the U.S.
- COOs: 260,000 globally, 540,000 in the U.S.
- CFOOs: 3,000 globally, 2,000 in the U.S.
These numbers may at least partly reflect the tendency of larger organizations to rely on separate roles for CFO and COO. But the combined role has certain strategic advantages that can benefit small to midsize businesses.
The Advantages of a CFOO
The CFOO brings a degree of synergy between upper-level management and the team on the ground. Here are just a few of the ways that a CFOO can transform a typical business.
CFOOs Can Improve Marketing Performance
With the increased emphasis on online presence and social media marketing, a CFOO can help manage the sales funnel by improving marketing performance.
Specifically, a CFOO can assist with the development and leveraging of content marketing, blog posts, videos, and more. This also means managing the data needed to evaluate these efforts and adjusting strategies accordingly.
CFOOs Augment the Sales Process
Technology companies especially have to focus on sales efficiency. CFOOs can improve efficiency by empowering the sales team through intensive training and overseeing the creation of materials to better educate customers on the company’s products.
CFOOs can also seek out automation that can minimize errors and reduce labor costs.
CFOOs Help Connect with the Customer
CFOOs implement the tools needed to monitor and measure customer behavior.
This monitoring can have a predictive function, helping leaders devise and refine sales strategies for maximum retention. But it can also assist in product development — designers can craft products that match their customers’ needs and even develop new products and functions based on customer feedback.
CFOOs Streamline General and Administrative Processes
In many ways, few company employees have the comprehensive vantage point of a CFOO. The role is uniquely suited to evaluate the organization’s core processes, including the sales cycle, customer monitoring, marketing, and product development.
The CFOO, therefore, has a role in evaluating the company’s effectiveness by relying on insights gleaned from real-time data.
CFOOs Add Value for Your Clients
Customers will notice the difference. Combining the roles of CFO and COO will bring about an increased level of efficiency that helps you better connect with your target market as you incorporate their feedback into your products and services.
This increased efficiency can even bring down costs, giving you a competitive edge in today’s crowded marketplace.
Meet the CFOO
To learn more, view our Meet the Controller/Meet the CFO Interview Series where you’ll hear from John Bozin, CFO of Armanino Strategic Finance Outsourcing (SFO) and CFOO specialist. John shares CFOO insights from his considerable experience in the business community, bringing valuable advice to aspiring and seasoned executives. View CFOO interview here.