The CFO'S Perspective

Maintaining Business Controls in a Remote Work Environment

We are now seven months into the Covid-19 pandemic, and it is clear we are far from returning to “normal”; however, that may be defined. What is clear is the pandemic pushed the concept of work-from-home (WFH) from being a motivational tool and employee benefit to a way of life. Work-from-home will undoubtedly remain an essential part of company operations well after the pandemic is under control. REI, Zillow, Twitter, Square, and other companies announced a plan to work remotely indefinitely.

Moving to a remote work environment in March with little or no notice was extraordinarily disruptive and often haphazard at best. We did what we needed to operate in the so-called “new normal.” By now, most of us have settled into a regular work cadence and adapted to working apart from the rest of our teams.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly one-third of the U.S. workforce and half of all “information workers” can work from home. Though the number of people working partially or fully remote has been on the rise for years now, the COVID-19 pandemic may have pressed the fast-forward button on this trend.

With millions of people taking part in this work-from-home experiment, now is the perfect time for companies to take a fresh look at their internal control environments, especially as they relate to their WFH team members. What once worked with everyone in the same place may not be effective with a distributed workforce.

A critical self-examination of your company’s internal control environment begins with an assessment of the segregation of duties.

Topics: Leadership Risk Management Change Management Business Controls

Business Continuity Planning and Risk Management

One of your most important tasks as a business leader and manager is mitigating risk. Understanding what kind of risk exists, planning for the impact of this risk, and executing continuity plans to keep the organization operational during a disruption is of paramount importance. The earlier risk can be identified, assessed, managed, and integrated into strategic planning, the better.

Typically, this burden falls on the C-Suite, but leaders at all levels should be included in the planning stage to ensure buy-in across the company. According to CFO Magazine, CFOs have seen risk management fall under their umbrella more over the last decade. They explain,

“The CFO’s role has expanded in recent years, perhaps most notably in the area of risk management. Finance chiefs frequently took charge of assessing and guarding against risk during the financial crisis, and as the economy has slowly recovered, few have relinquished the task. More than half of the finance executives responding to CFO’s latest Deep Dive Survey say their responsibility for risk management has increased.”

Not much has changed in the years since, with CFOs taking more ownership of risk than ever before, whether they want to spearhead this role or not.

While it is easy to task an individual with overseeing risk management, ideally, it should not roll up to a single person. An emphasis on risk mitigation should be ingrained across the organization with alignment and compliance at every level. CFOs leading the charge can get their organizations on board to share the responsibility by taking a four-step approach to business continuity planning.

Topics: Planning Risk Management Transition

Financial Scam Checklist During COVID-19 (for business or working from home)

Your most Important Tip: If you receive an email asking you to wire money or send gift cards, assume it is a fraud – every time. CALL the sender to confirm, at a number you know is correct.

We are seeing, and hearing about, an increasing number of online scams and other negative internet-based activity related to COVID-19 and the mass exodus from company offices to home offices.  

As thousands of information workers recreate office processes and routines to work in an online-only world, the scammers, spammers, information manipulators, and meeting hijackers have been busy as well.

Topics: Fraud Security Risk Management COVID-19

Growth Strategies - Risks and Possibilities

There’s nothing wrong with taking your business in a different direction. Some of the world’s most successful companies started out doing one thing and ended up succeeding at something else. Cell phone giant Nokia began as a rubber bootmaker, and oil conglomerate Shell was an importer of actual seashells. 

You can certainly reinvent yourself at any time, and sometimes it’s the best idea to guarantee success and longevity. But have you considered all of the risks and possibilities as you plan your roadmap for the next chapter of your organization’s growth?

Topics: Planning Growth Risk Management Strategy

Should Your Business Perform Due Diligence on Prospects & Clients?

Imagine signing your company’s largest contract of the year with a new client. Sales staff celebrate bonuses, and production goes to work on deliverables. When final payment is due, however, the client defaults and won’t return your emails or calls. It doesn’t take long, or much effort, to learn that this isn’t an isolated incident with this customer. 

Could you have prevented this costly mistake by performing due diligence on that prospective client before signing on the dotted line? What are the benefits and risks of integrating this practice into your business process? And if you do, how would you go about conducting due diligence on prospective clients?

Topics: Risk Management Due Diligence