ABSTRACT

While the popular press has documented Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role expansion into traditional operations functions, recent research suggests that time spent on non-core CFO activities harms financial reporting quality. We examine the operational acumen of CFOs and potential negative reporting consequences stemming from one person simultaneously holding the role of CFO and Chief Operations Officer (COO) (CFO/COO duality). Empirically, CFO/COO duality occurs with increasing frequency during our sample period (2000–2016); duality is not uncommon (among firms with a COO, over 10 percent have a unified CFO/COO executive). We find no evidence that combining the CFO and COO positions adversely affects operations. Regarding financial reporting quality, we find some evidence that CFO/COO duality firms have relatively more volatile discretionary accruals; however, these accruals are also relatively more predictive of future cash flows. Collectively, our results suggest that unifying control of operations and reporting can be an effective corporate reconfiguration.

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