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CFO Insights — Leaving a legacy — for your company, your team, and yourself

Published on: Feb 21, 2019

In the finale of the megahit play Hamilton, the cast poignantly asks, “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” For the musical’s protagonist, however, a lifelong obsession with his legacy did not guarantee that his story would outlive him. Instead, his wife, Eliza, spent the rest of her life securing Alexander Hamilton’s place in history as a founding father.

Unlike Hamilton, CFOs typically do not fixate on their legacies (or at least not the CFOs we talked to), nor do they secure surrogates to keep their legends alive. But they sure do think about what they want to leave behind — for their companies, their teams, and themselves. And judging by the responses to a recent CFO Signals™ question, CFOs overall want to leave behind organizations and functions that are world class and positioned to perform even better after they are gone.

Like Hamilton, though, circumstances beyond their control may affect CFOs’ legacies. Think failed acquisitions, product derailments, or cyber breaches, to name a few. In this issue, we will examine what CFOs hope to leave behind once their tenures end and offer some practical advice to help guide finance leaders as they build their legacies — none of which (luckily) involves a duel.

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