The Strategic Role of CFOs: Moving from Numbers to Relationships

In the dynamic landscape of business, the role of Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) extends beyond number crunching. While financial acumen is undoubtedly crucial, the ability to make it rain harder and longer involves a deeper understanding of the intricate web of relationships within an organisation. In this article, we delve into the four distinct personas found in any corporate setting, exploring the evolution from traditional finance to the realm of world-class CFOs who recognise the significance of relationships in driving sustained success.

The Four Types of Individuals in an Organisation

The Rainmakers:

  • These are the individuals who make it rain in the first place. In a business context, they are the sales, marketing, and the top 1% of CFOs who possess the unique skill of generating revenue.

Rain Enhancers:

  • The second group includes those who play a pivotal role in making it rain harder and longer. This category comprises the world-class Finance Business Partners (FBPs), Financial Directors (FDs), and forward-thinking CFOs who understand that their role extends beyond traditional financial functions.

Rain Catchers:

  • This group ensures that as little rain as possible is lost. Their focus is on optimising resources and minimising wastage to maximise the benefits of the rain.

Bucket Administrators:

  • Traditionally associated with finance, this group administers the buckets, measures the rain, compares it to the budget, and emphasises the need for more rain. However, this role is on the brink of automation.

The Transition from Traditional Finance to World-Class CFOs

The journey from being a mere number cruncher to a strategic rain enhancer involves recognizing the importance of relationships. While systems, analysis, and automation move individuals from the fourth category to the third, they alone are insufficient to propel one to the second tier.

Sales and Marketing: Lessons in Relationship Building

World-class CFOs, FDs, and FBPs distinguish themselves by understanding the value of relationships, a lesson learned from the worlds of sales and marketing.


  • Sales is about building ‘1 to 1’ relationships. Successful rainmakers establish and nurture individual connections that contribute to sustained business growth.


  • Marketing, on the other hand, revolves around building ‘1 to many’ relationships. It involves creating a brand image that resonates with a larger audience.

Moving from 3 to 2: The Power of Relationships

The shift from rain catchers to rain enhancers (from category 3 to 2) is fundamentally about relationships. The most successful CFOs intuitively grasp this concept and proactively build relationships even when their roles primarily require them to be number 4.

Conclusion: Unveiling the Unconscious Path to CFO Success

CFOs who ascend to the top often do so by recognising the importance of relationships, even if it happens unconsciously. They excel in the relationships game while still performing roles that might be considered number 4. This foresight and commitment to building meaningful connections are integral to their journey toward becoming CFOs.

In conclusion, the evolving role of CFOs demands a shift from a purely financial focus to a holistic understanding of relationships within and outside the organisation. By learning from the realms of sales and marketing, finance professionals can transform into rain enhancers, contributing significantly to the long-term success of the business.

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