The CFO'S Perspective

Is My CFO Underperforming?

As executive financial recruiters we work with companies every day who have lost their CFO for a variety of reasons. The CFO may have left to pursue a better opportunity, retired, or made a career change. And in some instances, the CFO may have been shown the door due to subpar performance.

In all honesty, the latter scenario is the least common. Most organizations are hesitant to let their CFO go because of the inherent doubt in the process of doing so. First, there is the big question of how to determine whether your CFO is making the grade. (You certainly do not want to let your CFO go if you cannot be certain that someone else will be able to do the job better!) And, secondly, there is the daunting prospect of needing to find a replacement that is going to be better performer.

But just because it is not very common in practice does not mean it should be. Companies, especially those with owners and CEOs that do not have strong financial acumen themselves, do not typically evaluate their financial leadership as thoroughly as they should. Unfortunately, if your CFO is underperforming, not identifying this in a timely manner or not doing anything about it, can be extremely costly. When your financial leadership is falling short of expectations, strategic planning can fail, affecting revenue and profitability.

Topics: CFO Analysis Leadership Growth CFO Responsibilities Assessment Strategy

How to Fund Business Growth

These days business owners looking to get an injection of cash into their companies have an almost endless list of possible funding options. However, that does not mean that all business funding options are created equal. They will vary by approval requirements, rates, conditions, payback terms, and other criteria. As a result, knowing the difference between funding types is meaningless without understanding what you hope to gain from securing financing.

Topics: Funding Growth

How to Strategically Invest in your Business During a Downturn

A recession or downturn in the market is one of the most demanding scenarios for senior leadership to weather because there are so many possible responses to consider. Each decision leadership makes during this critical time can have a significant effect on the company’s ability to come out on the other side at all, let alone seize available opportunities to grow in the process. So, how can you strategically invest in your business during a downturn to increase the likelihood that it will be able to emerge stronger?

It is critical to act swiftly instead of ignoring the warning signs that a downturn is coming, worsening, or may last longer than anticipated. However, that does not mean giving into kneejerk reactions. A Harvard Business Review article summarizes it best by saying,

“Inaction is the riskiest response to the uncertainties of an economic crisis. But rash or scattershot action can be nearly as damaging. Rising anxiety (how much worse are things likely to get? how long is this going to last?) and the growing pressure to do something often produces a variety of uncoordinated moves that target the wrong problem or overshoot the right one.”

Have honest conversations with your leadership team to solicit feedback on how to proceed while leaning on the data. Focus on efforts on strategically managing expenses, acquiring assets to achieve your goals, prioritizing customer relationships, and developing new markets while focusing on your core competencies.

Topics: Economic Trends Leadership Growth Risk Management Strategy COVID-19

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

What are the Benefits of Business Process Outsourcing?

Business process outsourcing (BPO) allows CEOs to focus on the job of running the entire business instead of getting bogged down with the management of individual departments and teams.

Effective outsourcing allows both large and small companies alike to lean on senior skillsets outside of the company to provide accurate information, offer impartial feedback, and inform strategic decision making.

In fact, according to a recent Intuit study, 65% of business owners surveyed said they would be “better positioned for long-term growth if they could take a step back and look at the bigger picture.” These business owners also reported that they were involved in areas of the company such as sales, marketing, customer service, human resources, and accounting, instead of outsourcing them. It is no coincidence that these activities were taking away from their ability to focus on their core business functions. When they were asked what they should be spending their time on instead, their top answers included developing business strategy, making an impact on customers directly, and innovating product/service offerings.

Business process outsourcing allows business owners and CEOs to utilize highly experienced professionals without needing to hire internally, both managing costs and improving business agility. Furthermore, outsourcing allows business leaders to reduce stress, lessening the likelihood of executive burnout.

Topics: Recruiting Trends Planning Cash Flow Leadership Growth Budgeting Strategy