How to Clearly Communicate with Your CFO

Diverse group of business professionals with good communication skills

I think one of the main issues we have in the world today is poor communication. As simple as it may seem, few people know how to communicate clearly. Frankly, this can cost you a lot in your life, including your business. 

How do you know the person you’re talking to understands what you’re saying? How do you know you’re asking all the right questions? How can you tell that the person is following the conversation? How do you ensure that the person understands and follows the discussion?

Let’s discuss how to thoroughly explain how you communicate with your fractional CFO or Chief Anticipation Officer (CAO)

Why Do you Need to Communicate with your CFO or CAO? 

Previously, we’ve discussed what types of critical conversations you should be having with your CFO or CAO. Here’s a summary:

Your Fractional CFO Is Like Your Financial Fortune-Teller

Your Fractional CFO or CAO can spot potential cash flow problems coming around the corner.  Imagine knowing a problem is coming before it comes. This way, you can prepare for it or find ways to prevent it.

Your Fractional CFO cannot help you if you don’t keep them in the loop about these things. As much as it sounds nice to be a superhero like Flash, run past time into the future to see what happens, your CFO is just a regular human. They need data and information to predict some of the problems you might face in your business. 

Your CFO or CAO Helps You Identify Problems

Your Fractional CFO or CAO can help identify the obstacles your business is facing and strategize ways to get around them. Imagine how cool it will be to move things by just thinking about them, both physical and abstract. Unfortunately, you don’t have such powers, and neither does your CFO. However, your CFO has the knowledge and experience to help you out only if you communicate clearly with them and give them useful data to work with. 

Your Fractional CFO or CAO Can Put Your Best Interests Forward

Your Fractional CFO or CAO can act as a liaison with your banker, HR, legal team, and insurance brokers, putting your business’s interest forward. But, again, unless you communicate with your CFO clearly, they have no way of knowing what your business interests are. 

Think of how relevant your Fractional CFO is to your business and all the things you can achieve if they had the resources to help. This is why they must hear and understand you. But how do you do that? You’re about to find out! 

How to Effectively Communicate with Your CFO 

Recently, I was in an interview on the Journal of Accountancy podcast where I talked about the value of clear, concise written information. Unfortunately, clear communication is often underrated or not given much thought. 

Communicating clearly and concisely with your CFO can do wonders for your business. 

One of the critical conversations you should have with your Fractional CFO is about your hopes and dreams for your business. Unfortunately, you may talk so passionately about your aspirations and dreams but not convey any message to your CFO. 

You can ensure they understand perfectly by practicing a two-way kind of communication. For example, to check that the message is being conveyed, you can say something like, “Let me confirm what you just heard.” This way, the person is prompted to take the reins while you listen to confirm whether they understood or not. 

In essence, you don’t just talk and assume the person—your CFO, in this case—understands the message you’re passing across. Instead, you want to confirm understanding, ask questions, and make the conversation an active process. 

Say you’re having a conversation with your Fractional CFO, and she says, “I noticed that something needs to be taken care of,” then you reply, “No problem.” Keep in mind that a “no problem” response is no response at all. It doesn’t address the issue at hand. Be clear. A more suitable answer is, “Thank you for pointing that out, and here’s what we’re going to do about it.” Engage with them, even when you can’t see them. 

The world was forced into a pandemic recently, and most businesses had to work remotely. I preferred a face-to-face conversation, but I had to go fully remote during this time. Written communication became essential. Even now that we don’t face the threat of a pandemic, written communication is still in practice— it has always been in practice. Unfortunately, some of us suck at it. 

Effective written communication is a critical skill you must develop for better communication. Keep it short and comprehensive. Get to the main point, and focus your message on relevant things. 

Always confirm understanding.

A Fractional CFO or Chief Anticipatory Officer (CAO) can help your company in many ways. KBS CFO’s engagement with clients extends far beyond monitoring your accounting activities and creating financial reports. We are a strategic partner who wants to help you take your business forward, whatever that means for you. It all begins with open lines of communication. So contact us today, and let’s talk about your needs.