In the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, a CFO's thoughts can turn to life after work — especially given the very long hours logged by the typical finance executive.
It may come as a surprise to learn that many CFOs worry that they have not adequately prepared for retirement. But in two separate surveys, CFO readers said they fear they won't be able to retire comfortably. In part, of course, this concern hinges on how one defines "comfortable." In speaking with CFOs for our cover story ("Are You Ready for Retirement?"), research editor Don Durfee learned that, in many cases, finance chiefs feel stymied by the issues that haunt most Americans of a certain age: health-care costs, college-education bills, and a late start on savings. Compounding this unhappy trio are the losses many CFOs suffered in the dot-com bust, and the failure of the stock market to realize net gains since then. Despite survey numbers showing that 71 percent of CFO readers think they can invest as wisely as financial-planning professionals, many have not been able to make up the losses.
However much CFOs can help themselves in this regard, they are well positioned to help another group who also face very long workdays, with no hope of retiring whatsoever. As departments editor Joseph McCafferty explains in "The Price of a Cheap Suit," U.S. companies are spending millions to monitor working conditions at suppliers in developing countries, and seeing very little return on that investment. The problems are complex, but, as McCafferty points out, in terms of experience, knowledge base, and authority, CFOs are uniquely qualified to tackle them.