The CFO'S Perspective

How a Fractional CFO Improves Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A)

Attitudes around FP&A (financial planning and analysis) are kind of a mixed bag – everyone agrees it is important, but many people do not know what it really entails. As a result, businesspeople form their own opinions about who should handle it and what owning it should look like.

Some business leaders downplay the complexity of FP&A and mistakenly task their accounting and finance teams with this crucial function. This can be a mismatch because many accountants are not equipped to handle this level of financial responsibility and organizational oversight. Alternatively, some business leaders put FP&A on a pedestal and assume its critical role in the success of an organization necessitates a dedicated role.

Topics: Planning Analysis CFO Responsibilities

When to Use a ‘Decision Tree’ for Business Planning

For those not familiar with the term, a decision tree is a flow chart that works through all possible response options in a scenario to analyze resulting outcomes. Basically, it is a visual version of an “if this then that” statement across all possible alternatives.

The “branches” off each decision alternative that result use data analysis to forecast the most likely outcome of each decision. When one decision leads to another decision that must be made, that branch splits to continue extrapolating the effects of each subsequent decision. The result is a tree-like diagram (hence the name) that is easy to understand and interpret.

Decision trees can be more conceptual in nature or have numbers to back up decision scenarios, as is the case of pricing changes affecting revenue figures. For decision trees with complicated calculations, a software program can assign values and probabilities to streamline decision-making. A decision tree is a critical part of strategic planning because it allows decisionmakers to analyze the effects of a significant change throughout different areas of the business.

Topics: Data Analysis Planning Analysis Leadership Growth Forecasting Risk Management Change Management Strategy

How CFOs Plan and Prepare for Worst-Case Scenarios

The current economic climate, combined with the fact that September is National Preparedness Month, has many of us thinking about how we can prepare for possible threats and business disruptions. This kind of strategic planning allows a business to approach a worst-case scenario with a growth mindset instead of fear – increasing the likelihood that your business will come out of a crisis stronger for having gone through it.

During a worst-case scenario, leadership must decide whether the organization will make the necessary adjustments needed to continue with business as usual or change how the company will operate. And while the conversation will undoubtedly include operational and capacity considerations, it is primarily a discussion about financial capabilities.

Topics: CFO Planning Analysis Cash Flow Risk Management CFO Responsibilities Change Management Strategy

Financial Projections and Analysis Considerations

An important part of the business planning process is the preparation of financial statements to predict the outcome of an organization’s results in future periods.

Financial projections are based on compiling the internal and external accounting data you already use in the day-to-day management of your business. By projecting your revenue and expenses, you can get a more accurate view for how successful your business can be. Creating financial projections is not an easy task but is a very important part of developing a sound strategy. The financials tell you what goals to keep and what to cut.

Topics: Analysis Financial Projections

Financial Risk Assessments - What Are They & Why Your Company Needs One

Risk isn't just for actuaries! As a business owner, there are risks everywhere, and a financial assessment can help identify areas where your company might be vulnerable to risk, determine your company's attitudes towards risk, reinforce your strengths, and ensure that you are able to take advantage of valuable opportunities.

The key focus of a financial risk assessment is a deep dive into a company's financial preparedness and it includes pieces of other areas as they relate to financial stability. The assessment can point out areas that are working and those that are not, in time to make necessary course corrections.

Every business owner should think about performing a financial risk assessment of their company on a regular basis. The cadence is different for every industry, size, and type of company, but at a minimum once per year.

The results of a financial risk assessment will feed into the strategic planning process and budgeting. A consistently profitable company who is not worried about potential risks may still be missing something that could either blow up or cause them to miss opportunities.

Topics: Analysis Risk Management Assessment