Operating at the nexus of short-term performance pressures and the behaviors that promote long-term value creation within the firm, the chief financial officer (CFO) has a unique ability to drive long-term value creation for the organization. Among their growing set of responsibilities, CFOs and their teams report company financial results, communicate with and field questions from investors, secure financing to fund corporate strategies, and act as a strategic resource for the chief executive officer (CEO) and board of directors.

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CFOs need to manage legitimate short-term performance pressures and, at the same time, advocate for capital allocation decisions with long-term benefits, even if potential contributions to corporate earnings are years in the future. CFOs are essential to driving long-term behaviors and are in a unique position to make a meaningful difference. According to one leading academic, “There’s a huge opportunity for CFOs to focus firms on what truly matters.”

Based on input from FCLTGlobal’s Long-term CFO Initiative (which included two FCLTGlobal member working groups and more than 60 one-on-one interviews—sourced from multiple geographies) and available research, this paper highlights key pressures and obstacles that CFOs encounter, considers the CFO’s unique role as a fulcrum for long-term behavior, assesses the CFO’s intrinsic long-term focus, and recommends the following four long-term levers readily available to the CFO:

CFOs interested in driving long-term value creation can use these findings as a reference checklist to encourage long-term behaviors across their organizations. Those who work with CFOs (boards, C-suite executives, CFO direct reports, and external professionals) can also use these tools to support and challenge senior finance executives and their teams.