Skip to main content

A CFO within marketing? For Mastercard, the move paid off

Tough relationship with finance? Maybe you should hire your own CFO. It works at Mastercard. Hear how.

As the pressure to prove marketing’s ROI intensifies, marketing leaders should work to build a strong alliance with their finance counterparts. Mastercard’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Raja Rajamannar went one step further, hiring a CFO to serve within marketing. He explains the benefits of this unconventional approach on this week’s What It Means.

Featuring:

Raja Rajamannar, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer, Mastercard

Show Notes:

Eight years ago, Mastercard’s Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Raja Rajamannar sought to end the perennial “nagging suspicion” that the company’s finance function harbored toward marketing. To improve communication and transparency, he took the unusual step of appointing a CFO that sits within marketing and reports both to him and the company’s CFO. On this week’s podcast, Rajamannar explains the benefits of this arrangement and offers advice to CMOs looking to improve their relationship with finance leaders.

How marketing and finance define and measure success often differs, Rajamannar notes. Marketers aren’t always prepared to answer questions about program costs or financial benefits, while lifts in brand awareness and other metrics that marketers value aren’t as convincing to finance. At Mastercard, embedding a CFO within marketing led to changes in measurement and reporting that have strengthened credibility with finance. The move has also improved marketing’s bargaining position.

“Marketing can approach with much more confidence and justify why they’re wanting what they’re wanting,” Rajamannar says. Because marketing maps each dollar it spends to specific products, geographies, and segments, it’s easier to defend specific line items if budgets need cutting. “It’s a wonderful place for marketing to be in,” he says.

To CMOs who still struggle to demonstrate marketing’s financial value, Rajamannar offers some tips. Along with building a relationship with finance leaders, he recommends taking basic business finance courses to better understand the numbers and build goodwill. The learning should work both ways, he adds: For example, marketing leaders should educate their C-suite peers about the business value of brand marketing by sharing third-party studies that show the correlation between brand value and growth and retention.

Listen to the full episode to learn more about strengthening the marketing-finance relationship.