The Mirror of Erised and a CFO’s Deepest and Desperate Desires

Weekends are reserved for reading and occasionally I dabble in reading fiction. And last weekend was no exception

Weekends are reserved for reading and occasionally I dabble in reading fiction. And last weekend was no exception.

As I lazily moved my fingers over my bookshelf, unable to decide what one to read, my fingers rested on “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”.

Satisfied with my choice, I started reading the book and lost myself in the story of Harry Potter living a life of misery with his relatives and joining Hogwarts, the School of Magic, the friendships he builds, and the adventures he has there.

One of the fascinating stories hidden in the book is about the “Mirror of ERISED”, a magical mirror that shows “the deepest, most desperate desire” of the hearts of those who see their reflection in it, but one person can’t see those of others even if they are looking at the same time.

Harry ended up seeing himself with his parents in the mirror.

Ron ended up seeing himself with his brothers and as the Quiddich captain.

And that set me thinking, what a CFO would see in the ‘Mirror of Erised’ if they had access to one today?

Before we get into that, let us step back and look at what businesses are expecting from CFO’s today.

– They are expected to play a more proactive role in enabling change in the company
– They are expected to take the lead in driving long term performance
– They are expected to embrace digitalization to enable better decision-making and thereby help steer the companies through tough times

Now that is the kind of pressure even Harry Potter did not have when he entered Hogwarts.

While digitalization of the Finance function would definitely help them meet these expectations, would CFO’s want to see, in the Mirror of Erised, a digital platform that helps them just meet business expectations?

I would think no, because CFO’s being detailed oriented, they would want to see something more specific.

And I am sticking my neck out to say that they would want to see a digital platform that helps them with the following:

– The ability to compare crucial financial information across various dimensions – periods, entities, divisions, cost-centers, geographies, etc.
– Collection of visual widgets – each of which will communicate an important piece of information, like KPI’s, margins, ratios, sales, aging, etc.
– Graphical charts that can drill down to the lowest level of information
– Completely customizable MIS reports, as each business is unique and so are their requirements
– Worry-free compliance reporting: whether it is statutory financial statement preparation, bank reporting, or regulatory returns
– Seamless consolidation of accounts: whether it is for legal reporting or management analysis. Consolidation of accounts across entities has always been tricky and challenging

As a CFO what would you like to see in the Mirror of Erised?

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