CFO Concerned About Power Struggles per Deloitte

Norman Marks, CRMA, CPA, is a vice president for SAP and has been a chief audit executive and chief risk officer at major global corporations for more than 20 years.


Both internal auditors and board members need to know what their CFOs are thinking and worrying about. Deloitte has a valuable publication, CFO Signals, which will help.

In their Q2 2012 report, Deloitte has again surveyed CFOs from large North American companies (predominantly over $3bn in revenue).

It seems, according to the survey, that the priority has shifted from uncertainties about strategy to concerns over execution. Major change initiatives top the list of concerns, followed by regulatory change and poor company performance.

One revealing tidbit that should be of concern to boards and practitioners is that "internal power struggles" are a major challenge for 25% of the CFOs surveyed. 

I suggest that boards probe this, as internal power struggles may significantly inhibit executive and corporate performance. For example, there might be problems with:

  • Teamwork and trust among the executive leadership
  • Problems between the CEO and CFO
  • The sharing of information
  • and more

Internal auditors should similarly be concerned about power struggles at the top. How will this affect the identification and management of risk, and the quality of oversight and other controls?

I welcome your comments and observations.

Posted on Jul 9, 2012 by Norman Marks

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  1. Norman,

    As someone who speaks with CFOs daily, I can tell you that CFOs are concerned about power struggles with other executives and the CFO.

    I have seen many issues where this affects boards directly and indirectly, including the following.

    I have seen CFOs being blocked by CEOs from having frank discussions with the board, and supposedly the board agreeing that all communication should be filtered through the board. 

    I have seen CFOs take another job opportunity, to the surprise of the board and the CEO, because of issues that could have been dealt with if the lines of communication with the board were open and secure.

    If Board members are not having frank and regular conversations with their CFOs, the Board members are to blame when they find out at a later date that they were missing key information that they could have done something about at an earlier date.


    Samuel Dergel - The CFO Expert

    Director, Executive Search

    Stanton Chase International


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