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The role of the finance function has changed dramatically over the past couple of decades, and it continues to evolve. Traditionally, the primary responsibilities of finance included financial reporting, cash flow management, and activities around securing corporate funding. Increasingly, though, finance leaders are being asked to play a more strategic leadership role in their organization.

One area in which leaders of the finance function can be particularly instrumental in reinforcing corporate strategy is in the design of companywide incentive compensation. Finance can help with the selection of performance measures, the evaluation of possible performance targets, and an assessment of the cost and affordability of alternative compensation-program designs. Getting an analytical finance manager’s perspective is especially important for companies evaluating long-term incentive plans, with which the range of alternative designs is virtually limitless—and the selection is high-risk.

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