ACCA investigates how personal networks affect a CFO's career
Aspirational accountants on the CFO career path benefit enormously
from an effective network. Good networks facilitate new opportunities
and a strong network helps ambitious finance professionals gain insight
and advice from people with different experiences as part of the
A good network generates career opportunities and reduces the risk of
dead ends. Most finance jobs are not advertised and career opportunities
often come about through a contact network. Alternatively an effective
career network can simply operate as a knowledge plug-that is there will
be someone in the network with the relevant knowledge and information
that an individual needs and who can be called on to supply it.
A network shouldn't be used to confirm what individuals already know;
it should be used to fill in what is not known.
Ambitious finance professionals with an eye on a CFO position need to
think carefully about how they develop their network. There are some
golden rules which should be applied.
Effective networkers typically build bridging positions between
disparate groups; in simple terms ,this means that they have access to
information and can share that with different parties who are not
directly networked or connected to the owner of the information. It's a
powerful position to be in.
Time also matters .Early networking in a career usually pays off
because strong networks take time to cultivate ;individuals are more
likely to be able to capitalize on the opportunities that a network
presents earlier in their finance careers because they may be less
constrained by personal circumstances.
The quality of a network is much more important than the quantity of
contacts. With networking, less is often more. Where a network is too
large ,individuals do not have sufficient time or energy to devote to
developing relationships properly.
At the other end of the scale having too small a network or one
localized to specific areas of expertise ,can also create problems.
The learning point is that both internal and external networks should
be cultivated so as to maximize opportunities and learning experiences
and to navigate around potential career blocks.
A crucial point is that the most diligent collaborative workers
invest time in developing strong relationships that last. They think
carefully about how the network will extend their abilities.
These relationships typically work on reciprocal basis which builds
up trust and strengthens ties; poor networkers commonly develop networks
that are too large and woefully superficial.
Good networkers make sure that whenever possible they are able to
accommodate requests and provide independent objective advise and
feedback. They ensure they fulfill the promises they make.
They do not alter their values or beliefs simply to fit in with the
current vogue and as a result they earn respect for their integrity.
They invest sufficient time and resources in developing their
relationships and recognize that effective networking is a long term
When a top position is reached the strength of relationships and
networks continues to matter. A CFO who has developed a strong network
is likely to be much more successful in their role internally and even
more so externally.
Canny CFO's understand that the role of finance is evolving and that
interactions with external stakeholders are just as important to it's
success as internal relationships. They recognize that effective
engagement with shareholders, regulators governments, tax authorities,
banks, suppliers and customers is key.
The CFO's role is more challenging and more complex than ever and in
the current environment is coming under even greater scrutiny.
CFO's who are good at building friendships allies and networks are
most likely to succeed not just because they will bring people on to
their side but also because their networks operate as shared learning
environments where ideas, knowledge, and experiences can be exchanged
and advise sought from peers and associates.
A CFO who has built up a strong external network is also well placed
to keep pace with emerging good practice in the marketplace.
Good networks offer CFO's informal opportunities to benchmark their
finance function. It may also help them recruit talented people into the
organization and it will always help them keep their own career options