The CFO'S Perspective

Integrity in Finance – Why Establishing Trust Matters

“If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.”
- Alan K. Simpson

Originally published: 6/30/2021
Updated: 5/10/2024

Integrity in finance should be the foundation of a lasting bond between a business and its clients. Everyone wants to believe the promises that a company makes to them with respect to safeguarding their interests. But how many organizations can follow through on those promises? 

In an ideal world, we would have absolute trust in our financial institutions, advisors, and government regulators. Unfortunately, history and public sentiment tell us a different story. Sure, ethics and integrity still exist in finance. And those organizations are the ones that will consistently find success. 

Topics: Leadership Company Culture Integrity

When to Use a ‘Decision Tree’ for Business Planning

Originally published: 2/15/2021
Updated: 3/4/2024

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 decision makers 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 to do When You Don't Know What to do – A CFO's Perspective

There's an interesting quote I hear quite regularly regarding how to act in times of strife or turmoil.

The only way out is through." – Robert Frost

If you think about it, it's a simple allegory for a moment when you may face a challenge, whether work, personal, or otherwise. Given that this is a business-related article, I'll limit my thoughts to the work environment, specifically examples facing business financial executives. The point, however, is that bemoaning the issue, or moment, or whatever the challenge may be, does very little to help you move on from that issue or moment. Action is what helps you more than any other element. Doing something is better than doing nothing almost all the time.

Topics: Planning Leadership Transition

How a CFO Selects and Manages Vendor Relationships Using the 3 P’s

Among a CFO’s many duties is selecting and managing the company’s key vendors. Typically, these include banks and other capital providers, investment advisors, key software vendors, insurers, benefits and retirement services brokers, HR/payroll service providers, and audit and tax experts. Other than client relationships, these are often among a company’s most important business relationships. How does a CFO look at these key business partners, and how does he decide whether and when to make a change?

Topics: Leadership Vendor Management

Tesla Lost their CFO – How and When this Will Happen to You

According to news reports, Tesla’s CFO, Zachary Kirkhorn, has unexpectedly stepped down after 13 years with the company. This came as a shock to many because he was widely viewed as a possible successor to Elon Musk for the CEO role. He announced that he will remain on until the end of the year to help with the transition, but that the company’s Head of Accounting would replace him within the week in an interim capacity.

What happened? And could this happen to you as well? Let’s dig in to understand more.

Topics: CFO Leadership

What Does a Recession Mean for You? It May Not Need to be What You Think!

I've been pondering the narrative around an economic recession for this entire year, along with many of you. Candidly, the discussion reaches back into 2022. Economists were wrestling with whether the consequence of the US Fed's economic tightening would lead to a recession. Or if the economy had so much momentum, while economic activity would slow, we wouldn't enter a technical recession.

(Ed: I won't spend much time offering technical rationale in this post. Ultimately, it's not the point I'm discussing. However, to frame the article, I'll define an economic recession as two consecutive quarters of declining GDP growth.) 

Flash forward to the end of Q2 2023, and I'd offer a recession is likely, though probably not declared until Q1 2024.

Topics: Economic Trends Leadership Forecasting

Becky Todd's Personal Story About Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conveys Why it Matters

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion mean many things to people. For me, it has a personal meaning that goes beyond the workplace. When you see me, you see my Norwegian Mother, but you don't see my story and how I came to see how bias can profoundly affect a person's ability to pursue a better life for themselves and their families. I don't share many personal details on social media and am careful with what I put out in the world.

How I feel about this is still evolving and will continue to evolve, but as I co-chair our DEI committee at CFO Selections, I am thinking more about how sometimes support can come in the form of understanding.  

Topics: Leadership Company Culture DEI

Difficult Conversations at Work (and in Relationships)

As a finance team professional with years of experience navigating office politics, human relationships and life in general, I have the need to successfully complete difficult conversations every day. It is a skill that one acquires over time, especially after learning that it’s better to face problems head on.

It's easy to avoid the problems, bury your head in the sand, or pretend things are peachy, especially at work or in a new relationship. Avoidance only makes it worse for you and everyone around you - but mainly for you. When you go along because you're afraid of making it worse, you will slowly resent it and may leave your job or relationship because of it.

What if, instead, you faced these problems head-on, resulting in more positive working relationships and maybe even happier clients?

Topics: Leadership Personal Development Company Culture