Various Roles for the CFO During Real Strategic Planning (Part One)


Having helped over 800 clients do real strategic planning, I have had the privilege to work with lots of fabulous CFOs who are a competitive advantage for their companies.  These CFOs are open-minded, constructive, and instructive.  

Because strategic planning should be tailored for each unique company, the role of the CFO changes too.

We use what we call our Insight™ approach to strategic planning with executives who realize that they have been making very important decisions based on outdated or insufficient information.  Nine times out of ten, it’s updated market research that is needed because customer needs and preferences are changing so rapidly.  During a recent Insight™ strategic planning assignment, the client was fortunate because the CFO was genuinely curious about the significance of buying patterns and factors that influence customer satisfaction.  This CFO was interested in causal factors and not just bottom line results after the fact. The CFO was one of the reasons this company could fully embrace the goal of quickly tripling gross revenue while only doubling operating expenses.

When real strategic planning is indicated, a capable CFO can serve as an important sounding board, teacher, and advisor for other members of the executive team.  He/she can help fellow executives tweak and rehearse their presentations.  If the proposals of the Marketing VP cannot be understood by a bright CFO, the presentation is not ready for the entire executive team.  The CFO can help the VP Client Services make sure that his/her ideas can generate the necessary gross profit.

The executives in one of our client companies affectionately refer to their CFO as “Guru.”  He is well versed in projections, budgets, financing, ways to increase profitability, etc.  Plus he is bilingual.  This CFO can speak both “Accountese” and English.  The best part is that he respects people.  He can patiently explain which factors impact gross profit to a department head with no previous training in accounting … without any condescension in his voice. We led our Accelerate™ strategic planning process with this client and the CFO has been a trusted teacher and advisor for just about every member of their executive team.

Aldonna R. Ambler, CMC, CSP has earned the right to be called THE GROWTH STRATEGIST®. She has won over 2 dozen national and statewide “entrepreneur of the year” awards for the resilient growth of her international businesses across 4 recessions.  Her midsized BtoB clients get on…and then stay on…the published lists of the fastest growing privately held companies. She owns and operates a suite of companies that help privately held midsized companies achieving accelerated growth with sustained profitability® through opportunity & resource analysis, 4 approaches to strategic planning, executive advisory services, growth financing, and targeted search.  2012 is Ambler’s 8th year hosting a weekly peer-to-peer-to-peer syndicated on line talk show that features interviews with CEOs/Presidents of midsized companies (typically between $20 and 200 Mil/yr) sharing success tips about the growth strategy-of-the-week. An archive of over 300 interviews is available at She can be reached toll free at 1-888-Aldonna or at                 


About Aldonna Ambler:
Known as The Growth Strategist®, Aldonna Ambler built and grew a suite of companies to help midsized B2B companies achieve accelerated growth with sustained profitability® A Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Ambler has addressed over 2000 audiences and hosted a syndicated online talk show about growth strategies for 9 years. As a growth financing intermediary, Ambler raised over $1 Bil dollars for midsized companies. The winner of over 2 dozen prestigious national and statewide "entrepreneur of the year" awards, Ambler is available to speak about “profitable growth during any economy” and/or serve on the board of a growth-oriented privately-held company.

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Growth Strategy Tip


When we engaged her for the strategic planning sessions, we discovered an added benefit. She had both run her own businesses and worked with very large businesses so in addition to the facilitator function we hired her for she also provided very important Business Consulting services.

Robert Waller, Jr., CAE
President and Chief Executive Officer of Association Headquarters

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