Next Gen CFO
By Matt Henderson, Partner, Deloitte

I was reflecting over the weekend on the Deloitte Next Generation CFO programme, which we hosted in our Leeds office recently. I am lucky to have been involved in this programme for the past five years. I have spent my entire career within professional services in the local market, therefore I can only begin to imagine what it’s like to work ‘in industry’ as we call it, but I sense from the participants that have been on the programme that being in industry is fast paced, highly varied and progress can lead to new challenges.

In addition many participants recognise that, compared to the profession, there is a more limited ‘peer’ group and more limited or less structured opportunities to think about self-development and career progression.  I’m hopeful that participants who have been on the programme see that, in some small way, attendance gives them an opportunity to engage in some structured thinking around their self-development.  


Being a due diligence partner, it would be remiss of me not to try and dissect and interrogate some of the numbers around the Yorkshire programme participants.  Unsurprisingly perhaps, 57% of the 81 participants to date came from private companies, with 31% from PLCs.  From an industry perspective, 55% were from Consumer & Industrial Products businesses, which again is perhaps not surprising. The statistic that surprised me somewhat was the ratio of female to male participants over the five years, which was 32%/68%. I was quite disappointed at this initially, however it’s notable that the ratio of female to male participants has improved markedly, such that on average in the last three years the ratio was 46%/54%. I’m not a statistician, and these ratios may not be significant, but I like to think that the owners and managers of our local clients are by and large recognising that there are talented female accountants out there and nominating them for programmes to support their development.

As with prior years, we had some great external speakers including a CFO from a well-known global brand who manages 600 finance staff, a CEO who has seen growth from an initial MBO to a multi-faceted, US private equity backed vehicle, and an investment director from the market leading turnaround private equity house. Each of these speakers provided their own insight into the role of the CFO, and those messages supplemented the internal Deloitte speakers, such that together, the participants gained a well-rounded and consistent set of hints and tips as they consider their career progression. It was interesting to me that the messages were largely consistent with those we’ve heard delivered to earlier cohorts. The speakers focused on the trust that is placed in the hands of the CFO, that the role goes way beyond the numbers and that the CFO should influence and drive results not just report them (shock horror, there was talk of the CFO actually meeting customers and suppliers, and visiting branches and stores!). There was also a challenge that the CFO and the finance function shouldn’t be immune to the need to improve, change, become better. And whilst the CFO and CEO should be a strong unit, there was recognition that they can disagree from time to time (and agree of course!).

The participants typically leave the programme rather shell shocked. They recognise that their bosses (who nominate them for participation) work very hard but the course materials and the messages learnt can potentially make it seem like the path to being a CFO is a long one and the job itself is virtually impossible, particularly when considered around work life balance. What has been a pleasing aspect of being involved in the programme for the past five years is that unsurprisingly some of the previous participants have ‘made the grade’ and moved up into CFO roles. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with participants old and new at our next programme alumni event, and look forward to welcoming a new cohort of participants next year.

Matt Henderson_newMatt Henderson
Matt leads the Transaction Services team in Yorkshire and North East, based in the Leeds office. His focus is leading on due diligence assignments for buy-side and sell-side transactions for private and public sector clients including private equity. As part of this role he co-ordinates the delivery of broader services including commercial, taxation, IT, pensions and SPA related services. Matt also leads on Deloitte Private and the healthcare sector in the region.
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To find out more about the Next Generation CFO programme in Yorkshire and the North East, please contact Kirsty Turnbull.

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