Deloitte Financial Advisory Services recently conducted a poll and found that only 40% of respondents reported that there was a high degree of teamwork between their general counsels and chief financial officers. A quarter of respondents noted that collaboration between their GC and CFO was occasional, and 3% said collaboration was non-existent.

In spite of this data, there is a growing sense that a high degree of collaboration between GCs and CFOs “should be the rule and not the exception”, particularly in a tough economy. However, “collaboration tends to be episodic as opposed to ongoing and routine.” This coming from David Williams, CEO of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services, in an interview with Corporate Counsel’s  Shannon Green for a December article.

Green goes on to mention the survey indicated respondents disagree on when GC and CFO collaboration is most important. While 27% feel it is most needed “during an economic downturn”, 34% indicated teamwork should be high “regardless of market conditions”. 25% of respondents felt collaboration during times of “business growth or expansion” takes priority. Williams continued to say that the role of the GC needs to continue to evolve in terms of their strategic management and leading the company. GCs and CFOs share many of the same responsibilities in terms of risk management, protection and compliance, hence the need for more collaboration.

When there is a high level of collaboration, a company is much better able to handle risk and also proactively prevent it. Corporations need to more readily utilize the strengths of their general counsels, as most often what makes them good is having a broad impact across business units and the ability to collaborate with their leaders.