“C for Catalonia, F for Frankfurt, O for Oslo” was the mantra heard around our office in the spring of 1998. In the early days of CFO Europe, we found ourselves coaxing and cajoling our way into European corporate press offices in pursuit of interviews with a senior executive called the CFO. We were a little-known start-up whose mission was to shine a spotlight on the executives behind the little-known acronym.
As in the US a few years earlier, the CFO’s star in Europe was in the ascendant. In the early issues of the magazine, we predicted that more and more CFOs would be central to charting a new course for their companies. With the arrival of the euro in 1999, the region’s fast-maturing capital markets required CFOs to hone their investor relations skills and tap new, more global sources of funding. Thankfully, technological innovations freed finance chiefs from laborious number crunching, allowing them to contribute their expertise as a strategic partner more than ever before.
Not that it’s all been plain sailing. Ever since the implosion of Enron, CFOs have been charged with cleaning up corporate governance, adding to already heavy workloads. Catching up with CFOs in 2008 remains nearly as hard as it was in 1998 — but today, it’s because they are in such high demand, not because they labour in obscurity.
What hasn’t changed is that CFO Europe has two highly respected brands to help it punch far above its weight. The first is CFO, our award-winning US sister magazine launched by a group of visionary journalists in Boston in 1985. It’s CFO — whose articles often appear in CFO Europe — that set the standard in terms of the quality reporting for which we are known today. The second brand is The Economist Group, publisher of the iconic news and business weekly as well as the CFO family of magazines, whose resources and support have been essential to helping us raise the bar each month.
So it’s with a great deal of pride that we present our anniversary issue, which we’ve packed with features and interviews that explore the evolution of the CFO’s role, and make some predictions for the next ten years. Happy reading.