This week, we speak to Russell Guthrie, the CFO of the International Federation of Accountants.
Russell Guthrie is an accountant for accountants. As the CFO for the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), his relationship with the board is an unusual one.
“It’s an interesting role to present budgets, forecasts and analysis to a board comprised entirely of senior accountants from around the world,” Guthrie said. Instead of not simplifying things enough for a board of laymen, Guthrie has to avoid oversimplification. “It’s challenging from that perspective.”
But IFAC’s finances aren’t altogether complex. The $30m not-for-profit has a fairly straightforward financial structure. The role’s more strategic elements are what keeps Guthrie busy.
Alongside the numbers, he focuses on three specific functions: IFAC’s public policy positions, communications and stakeholder engagement. Guthrie’s role matches the trajectory of the CFO role at large.
These strategic trends filter through to Guthrie’s non-financial key KPI. “We’re a membership organisation, so a yearly KPI we measure is stakeholder satisfaction with what IFAC has delivered over the course of the past year.
“It’s rated on a scale of 1 to 10. We break it down it down into a few categories, and the one I focus on, in particular, is their satisfaction with our work in the advocacy space.”
It’s not a traditional KPI by any stretch, but for Guthrie, it says a lot about the job he’s asked to perform. “I have to elevate my role from just a numbers person to being more of a storyteller,” as Guthrie explained. “To explain what the numbers mean in the context of strategy.”