CFOs Becoming More Involved With HR

CFO role survey 2014CFOs are becoming more involved in human resources issues, as companies more and more break down traditional silos in favor of ever greater collaboration among departments and divisions.

Better than 8 in 10 CFOs say their responsibilities have expanded in the last three years to touch areas as diverse as marketing and operations. Human resources leads the list, with 21 percent of the 2,100 CFOs surveyed saying their job now includes at least some involvement with HR issues. Following closely, 19 percent of CFOs reported having some responsibility for IT.

Robert Half Management Resources, which commissioned the recent survey, did a similar one in 2011. That year, just as the economy was starting to revive, operations was cited by more CFOs (27 percent) than any other area. Human resources trailed with 19 percent of CFOs referencing greater involvement there.

What’s happening, says Paul McDonald, senior executive director for Robert Half, is that “CFOs are becoming more involved” in all areas of a company. The “blurring of functional areas is better than ever,” he said. “Everyone is involved in a collaborative mode.”

This is especially true in HR where, McDonald points out, predictive analytics — dependent on data analytics — are becoming a critical part of recruiting and hiring. “It’s a more complicated world,” he observes. Navigating it requires talents from wherever in a company they maybe found.

However, involvement doesn’t mean management, McDonald explained. That CFOs are finding their role expanding doesn’t mean a return to the years ago reporting structure where IT and personnel were functions of the finance division.

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Instead, the new importance of data to business, and post-Recession corporate frugality have demanded that CFOs be involved in most strategic decisions.

“Big data is pushing the change,” says McDonald. Finance has a long track record analyzing data, so its expertise is called on by other departments with less understanding of how to gather, manage, and analyze numbers.

Likewise, companies are demanding that projects, especially those carrying a price tag, show a return. That’s where CFOs come in. “ROI,” says McDonald, “is being used (to examine) everything an organization is involved in.”

John Zappe is the editor of and a contributing editor of John was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. He developed and managed online newspaper employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. Before joining ERE Media in 2006, John was a senior consultant and analyst with Advanced Interactive Media and previously was Vice President of Digital Media for the Los Angeles Newspaper Group.

Besides writing for ERE, John consults with staffing firms and employment agencies, providing content and managing their social media programs. He also works with organizations and businesses to assist with audience development and marketing. In his spare time  he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility and obedience competitions.

You can contact him here.


5 Comments on “CFOs Becoming More Involved With HR

    1. Ugh ugh ugh reading that old post! As a recruiter the team that “got” recruiting the most for me over the years has been Marketing – a hybrid department requiring people, technical and business knowledge (like recruiting). HR is internally facing as is Finance. Most recruiters I know, including myself, have nightmare stories about reporting to finance -we’re aliens to them 🙂

  1. And it’s a frickin’ disaster. Ask most people in HR who have reported to CFOs and Finance in general, and you’ll hear horror stories. It’s like Sales & Marketing reporting to Engineering – they should collaborate, as HR should with all teams, but one should NOT report to the other.

    1. I’m really interested in hearing your horror story; if you’re inclined to share! It sounds like fun (not to minimize/marginalize your pain!) but I don’t want to draw up any past trauma – here’s a post on ERE that calls for recruiting to report to Marketing if that salves any of the wound:

      After Jacque wrote that and after much consideration on my part I’m now convinced recruiting ought to work hand in hand with the CEO. I said so here:


      (I wonder who, in another 4-5 years, we’ll be reading HR is cozying up under. But, if you notice Aimee, we call for RECRUITING to match up; NOT HR specifically. Therein may lie the disconnect. In my opinion those two things (Recruiting/HR) should be disconnected.)

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  2. I personally enjoyed aspects of reporting to the CFO. As long as the CFO is competent, it helps to strip away the BS touchy feely aspect of HR/Recruiting and keep the department focused on actual business needs. Now, if the CFO is not competent or severely lacks training in some areas, I can see nightmare scenarios popping up real easily.

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