The CFO'S Perspective

How a CFO Provides Decision Support

A large part of any Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role is strategic decision support, whether those decisions are related to staffing, pricing, selling, manufacturing, or any other area of the business. A CFO’s forward-looking point of view combined with their financial acumen makes them ideally suited to provide actionable information to their CEOs and other corporate decision makers and integral to the success of the organization.

Leaning on a CFO for strategic decision making support offers the following benefits:

Topics: CFO Planning Leadership CFO Responsibilities Strategy

Business Contingency Planning for the New Era

In 2018 we published an article titled “How a CFO Will prepare Your Business for Unexpected Events.” In it we outlined 19 types of unanticipated events that could negatively affect your business and provided advice on how to develop a contingency strategy that would help your company prepare for any kind of disaster or disruption it might encounter.

Do you know what was not included in that list? A pandemic.

This was not simply an oversight. It was an indication that a global health issue was not on anyone’s radar. It was unthinkable in 2018 that one highly contagious illness could sweep through country after country, shutting down economies and causing destruction. No one was preparing for a global pandemic.

And yet, another interesting observation stands out to us. While the word “pandemic” was never used to address that specific kind of business disruption, the many outcomes of the pandemic were addressed. Loss of a business owner, financial hardship, loss of customers, new government regulations, political unrest, supply chain disruptions, loss of salespeople, and transportation issues were all named as possible unexpected events that could have a significant impact on a company.

Topics: Planning Forecasting Strategy

Should I Sell My Business Now or Wait?

Our CFOs get asked about business exit options a lot, especially these days. Business owners that are looking to step away to pursue other endeavors, interested in cashing out to get the full value of their hard work, or nearing retirement all wonder when they should make their move to maximize their gain.

While last year’s expected Federal tax rate increases did not happen, there is still lingering apprehension around the timing of exiting your business. So, though the urgency we witnessed last year has dissipated, the ongoing question still remains: should you sell your business this year, next year, or not at all?

Topics: Mergers and Acquisitions Change Management Strategy Start-up

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

Moving Beyond a Cost Reduction Strategy

Expense reduction services and cost reduction consultants have been extremely busy over the last year as organizations scrambled to overcome pandemic-related barriers and an overall downturn in the economy. Many companies that had been thriving before the pandemic saw their future success threatened and quickly froze their spending on everything from marketing to R&D. Others took a more measured approach, tightening spending across the board instead of cutting any areas altogether. And while their intentions were good, many businesses missed the mark when it came to executing cost containment strategies.

The reason too many cost reduction approaches fail is because they are predicated on the wrong assumptions. The assumption is that reducing costs will improve cash flow to allow struggling or compromised companies the breathing room needed to stay in business.

Topics: Finance Cash Flow Expenses Strategy

Is It Time to Downsize Your Business?

Downsizing is never a light topic to broach, but for businesses that are financially compromised or experiencing a reduction in demand, it is important to fully understand before any strategic planning can begin.

Downsizing is often tied to a reduction in headcount. Headcount is more than just a number, which is why downsizing should be approached with the utmost care and consideration. Knowing why a company should downsize, what kind of risk is associated with doing so, and how to avoid common mistakes is key to increasing the likelihood that your reduction efforts will be successful.

Use this guide to get a better understanding of the implications of downsizing and help inform your strategic planning as it relates to both maintaining your business and preparing it for sale.

Topics: Economic Trends Mergers and Acquisitions Planning Staffing Leadership Forecasting Expenses Profit Margin Assessment Strategy COVID-19

Weathering a Prolonged Recession – Expert Tips from Senior Leadership

Regardless of what precipitates a recession, economic ebbs and flows are to be expected over time. Recessions can be caused by a period of contraction that inevitably comes after economic expansion or a sudden and unexpected economic shock.

While the coronavirus recession is fresh on our minds, it is not the first nor will it be the last recession that today’s businesses face. Knowing how to weather a recession is an essential management skill regardless of how long it lasts. However, facing a prolonged recession poses unique challenges that can test even the most adept leaders.

Our team of experienced CFOs shares their top tips on getting through a recession and coming out stronger on the other side:

Topics: Economic Trends Planning Cash Flow Leadership Risk Management Change Management Transition Strategy COVID-19

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