One can quite easily spot an accountant in an organization during a floor walk. You need no directions to find them. He is that one person whose office is situated close to the seat of management. Yet, with a sense of detachment, goes about his business with minimal influence of the action that dictates the business leadership’s excitement.
The one whose mother tongue is excel. The one who thinks smiling a bit extra would leak dollars from his teeth.
Come to think of it at a slightly deeper level, the accountant’s profile has two components. By an accountant, I am including the CFO and the Controllership org in entirety.
One is more straight forward – as a custodian of the investor’s wealth. So there is a natural tendency to be guarded about information sharing.
The second is also out there, but valued a lot less or gets overshadowed by the business headlines.
And to me, that is the critical one.
The clan I strongly believe has not been given enough credit for their selling ability. No, I am not talking about creative accountants.
Accounting and sales are viewed as two poles apart.
While the sales and marketing teams can seize the moment of truth across the counter, and the feedback loops are faster and course correction can get expedited, for the controller or the CFO, they are dealing with a large customer base, in this case the investors, who have shelled out their money based on the case put out in the financials. The complexity is that the customer base is largely invisible, but voices are heard in AGMs and other meetings.
While the features of the product get advertised on a daily basis, the share price dictated by the capital markets is the main indicator for the investors to believe or not in a company’s story.
What supplements a share price is the kind of transparency and governance embedded along with the release of financial statements, which are presented by the CFO’s team.
With significant progress in convergence of accounting standards and strict guidelines from market regulators, the resources at hand that offer leg room for the finance team are limited.
Within this highly restricted gamut, a few arrows that the CFO team possess are frequent investor calls, proactive communication of impact of regulatory changes on business and path forward, and following disclosures more in spirit than form.
This provides a lot of visibility and clarity to current and prospective investors and will assure that community that the financial management is in strong hands.
The flow of an investor presentation should ideally have lesser of what happened in the past and more on pipelines and shareable strategies. These are of course subject to safe harbour, because in the long run shares are a reflection of business valuation which is more of the future cash flows than the past.
A team that is capable of selling the future of a company through numbers coupled with a credible story and the ability to enable investor wealth creation is a motley group of accountants. I would shamelessly call it one of the coolest profiles, especially in a VUCA world.