What to expect from your CFO in the first 90 days

I had the unique opportunity in my career to work with businesses in different industries and of different sizes and ownership levels as a full-time CFO. Each business had different needs and complexities. The smallest business was a $15m educational training center and the largest was a manufacturer who generated over $200m in revenues.  The industries included alternative energy, retail and wholesale trade, macro-economic consulting services, marketing agencies, hospitality enterprises, internationally based service groups, among others.  Ownership levels were varied. Some were privately owned, and others were either publicly held or owned by private equity groups.

The one thing they had in common was a need for CFO leadership and guidance.  The differentiator was the actual amount of time they truly needed a CFO.  Most businesses under $50m can be easily supported with a fractional, outsourced CFO.  It really boils down the complexity of the business.

CEFO engages with businesses at all stages of development, revenue levels, and industries.  Solving critical pain points is our primary area of focus. Many of our engagements are long-term and fractional (part-time) in nature.  Some are for a defined period to solve a pressing issue, provide temporary leadership, or to assist with exit or acquisition opportunities.

The role of a CFO, whether full-time or fractional, is vital to the financial health and success of an organization. In the first 90 days, a CFO’s approach and actions can set the stage for long-term success and alignment with the organization’s goals. Here’s a breakdown of what to expect from a CFO during this crucial period:

  1. Deep Assessment: You can expect your CFO to conduct a thorough assessment of the current financial and operational landscape. This involves looking into staffing, financial systems, reporting mechanisms, internal controls, and processes.
  2. Clear Communication: The CFO should establish clear channels of communication with various departments, ensuring that there’s a flow of information that can aid decision-making.
  3. Setting Priorities: With insights from the assessment, the CFO should work closely with senior leadership, particularly the CEO, to define and prioritize short-term and long-term financial objectives.
  4. Stakeholder Engagement: Building relationships is key. By engaging with stakeholders, the CFO can better understand their needs, concerns, and insights, which will be invaluable in driving the organization’s financial strategy.
  5. Strategic Alignment: The CFO must ensure that the financial strategy aligns with the broader organizational goals. They should work closely with the CEO and other leaders to understand and enhance the company’s vision and mission.
  6. Team Evaluation: The CFO should evaluate the finance team’s capabilities, strengths, and areas of improvement. This might lead to training, restructuring, or hiring to fill any gaps.
  7. KPI Review: It’s crucial for the CFO to assess if the organization is tracking the right metrics. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be relevant, actionable, measurable, and align with the company’s strategic goals.
  8. Financial Analysis: Your new CFO should be financially savvy and anxious to dive into the financial statements, internal management reports, and cash flow analysis to fully understand the current and historical trends. This will help identify any immediate potential financial risks or opportunities.
  9. Budgeting and Forecasting: The CFO should be very future focused. They should be diving into the budget and projections that are currently in existence. If lacking, or not available, he or she must start redefining the budgeting process, ensuring that the company is prepared for future challenges and opportunities.
  10. Actionable Plan: By the end of the 90 days, the CFO should have a clear, actionable financial plan that aligns with the company’s strategic objectives.


This first 90 days for a CFO, whether in-house or fractional, are pivotal. This period lays the foundation for the financial leadership and direction the CFO will provide. Regular check-ins, open communication, and collaboration between the CEO and CFO are the key to ensuring alignment and achieving the desired financial outcomes.

CEFO can help you determine the best fit:

  1. By assessing your current financial management needs: Understanding your pain points, challenges, and aspirations.
  2. Forecast future needs: Think about the direction in which your company is heading. Will you be entering new markets, launching new products, or considering mergers and acquisitions?
  3. Consider your budget: Determine what you can afford while ensuring you don’t compromise on the expertise required.
  4. Interview both full-time and fractional CFOs: Even if you’re leaning one way, understanding the value proposition from both sides can help solidify your decision.


Remember, the ultimate goal is to find the right financial leadership that supports your company’s growth, ensures compliance, and helps navigate challenges effectively. Whether that’s through a full-time or fractional CFO will depend on the unique needs and circumstances of your business.  To meet with one of our experienced CFO’s, please contact our office at 518.693.7446 or email Pat McGowan at PMcGowan@cefoadvisors.com or Amy Roman at ARoman@cefoadvisors.com.

Amy Roman Joins Wellspring Board

On January 26, 2023, Wellspring announced the addition of six new members to its Board of Directors, including Amy Roman, Cynthia Minuti, Ryan Shaw, Jessica Niles, Deann Devitt, and Julia Marco. These individuals come from diverse professional backgrounds and bring years of experience in a variety of careers, as well as considerable non-profit Board experience, to Wellspring. As Wellspring expands its offering of programs and services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and seeks to continue growing its impact in the community, CEO Maggie Fronk believes that the new Board members will help energize Wellspring to accomplish exciting things this year.

Amy Roman, a New York Certified Public Accountant and founder and owner of Strategic CFO Resources LLC, d/b/a CEFO Advisors, has a passion for helping others and desire to spread awareness about Wellspring’s work.
“I really want to become an advocate of Wellspring’s cause and help spread the word that there is help for those who have suffered through abuse,“ Amy said in the release.

The new Board members have a passion for helping others and a drive to improve the community by addressing the complex issue of relationship violence. Each brings unique skills and experiences to the Board, from accounting and finance to creative outreach and marketing. Together with the existing members of Wellspring’s Board, they will work towards achieving the agency’s goals for the year ahead.

For more information on Wellspring, and to read the full article from the Saratogian, visit this link.

CEFO Welcomes Diana Tindall as Assistant Controller

CEFO advisors is thrilled to welcome Diana Tindall to the team as an Assistant Client Controller. Diana started her career working in the Hospitality field for Hyatt and Marriott as a Financial Analyst, and has since worked as a Controller in a variety of fields including Commercial Real Estate, Construction and most recently a medical startup company.

“I am excited to work with a variety of clients and industries. I enjoy change and new situations so the structure in CEFO fits my personality”, Diana said.

Diana will be overseeing clients’ daily accounting operations and is looking forward to growing in her role and continuing to learn.

In her free time, Diana enjoys running, reading, and spending time on her family’s boat during the summer.

Stay updated on CEFO Advisors and follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cefo-advisors/.

Bob Hart Joins CEFO Advisors as a Client Controller

CEFO advisors is excited to welcome Robert (Bob) Hart to the team as a Client Controller. Bob joins us with 40 years of financial/operational experience across several industries. Since 2002 he has worked in the electronics/lighting industry, in roles ranging from VP Finance to CFO to President. Bob has his BBA in Accounting from Siena College, and MBA from RPI.

“I joined CEFO Advisors so that I can have the opportunity to work with different clients, across different industries so that I can hopefully help them to grow/prosper.  CEFO has a wealth of talent here, and I look forward to working with my co-workers on different engagements so that I can also personally continue to grow professionally”, Bob said.

Bob will be assisting clients with cash flow and working capital management, as well as ensuring strong internal controls are in place. His goal is to help his clients grow and prosper.

Bob and his wife recently relocated back to this area after 38 years. They are happy to be back close to their families and look forward to exploring the area, as well as summers in Saratoga.

Stay updated on CEFO Advisors and follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cefo-advisors/.

Kim Butler Joins CEFO Advisors as Manager of Accounting Services

CEFO advisors is excited to welcome Kim Butler to the team as Manager of Accounting Services. Kim joins us with twenty years of experience managing business clients in various industries, assisting them with accounting and tax needs. She uses her knowledge to customize accounting to the specific needs of clients.

Kim says, “I joined CEFO Advisors to focus on my strengths in bookkeeping and accounting in order to help my clients with their needs.”

Kim’s strives to help clients better understand their financial health so they can accomplish their goals. In her free time she enjoys running obstacle course races with her husband, family volleyball tournaments and travelling with her family and friends.

Stay updated on CEFO Advisors and follow us on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cefo-advisors/.

Using Strategy, Finance, and Culture to Guide your Business Philosophy

A business philosophy is relevant to every business.  It is especially important for small businesses. It plays into everyday interactions between people – from employee to customer, employer to employee, and among employees. The key is to have a solid foundation built from your strategy, finance, and culture. 

Business philosophy outlines the purpose of your existence and the goals you take on. Effectively, it’s the heart of your business. When strategy is well defined, the world is your oyster! A business philosophy helps both customers and employees understand your core values and beliefs. It becomes an integral part of your brand, your how you hire, and how you relate with customers, vendors, investors, bankers, everyone.

To ensure consistency, a business philosophy should be incorporated into every part of the business cycle. It guides your own decision-making and establishes long-term planning and effective communication and management. Customer-oriented philosophies tend to market better and studies have shown that 5 out of 6 customers will pay 25% for better services, which starts with a strong business philosophy!

How do businesses use strategy, finance, and culture to guide their philosophy? We will guide you through the process to help you begin to discover how to better define your own strategy, finance, and culture. 

What is strategy?

A strategy is a road map with step-by-step actions to lead to success. It allows you to work smarter within your business as decisions are easier to make when they are guided by an overarching philosophy. Success comes from thoughtful strategic planning.

A well thought out, strong business strategy will help you:

  • Adapt to market changes,
  • Manage financial resources,
  • Increase market return on investment (ROI),
  • Understand capacity constraints and thoughtfully adjust as the business changes,
  • Improve team collaboration,
  • Evolve into the incredible and thriving business you were meant to be!

Each business will have a unique strategy. Start with the following:

  1. Assess: Take note of the general state of business in your industry. How do similar companies operate?
  2. Position: Set a specific direction for the business and align the various elements needed to succeed. 
  3. Document: This may seem obvious, but it is an often-missed step. To stay focused on the business goals, define and document the road map.  You must then focus on communicating the strategy in an exciting and impactful way. Define your milestones and how you will achieve them.  Measure your achievement with well thought out key performance indicators (KPIs).
  4. Implementation: Keep the plan on target by talking to customers and employees, this will provide you with a pulse on how your strategy is being accepted. Hold brainstorming sessions regularly with employees to check in.

What is culture?

Having a healthy company culture is the basis for ultimate success. It provides employees with a sense of purpose and sets the tone for acceptable behaviors. It allows employees to build meaningful relationships within the business and supports their needs professionally and personally. It encompasses multiple aspects of personnel relations, inspiring opportunities for personal development and holding them accountable to expectations. Employees should feel comfortable with communication throughout the organization.

Leaders within an organization must set the tone for culture. A healthy company culture encourages personal growth, fosters trust, supports risk-taking, offers flexibility and gives praise and acknowledgement. A toxic culture will steer your business to a grinding halt.

Every company has a culture. A healthy culture can be achieved by:

  1. Establishing core values, communicating them to all stakeholders and using them as the basis for which you do everything from hiring employees, working with customers and even working with vendors.
  2. Lead by example and share your vision.  Define your “Why”.  Does everyone agree?
  3. Cultivate the right environment by hiring employees that exhibit company values.

What is finance?

We use the term finance to mean a variety of things.  A healthy financial outlook is key to running a successful business.  How you balance and report on the various inflows and outflows daily, monthly, and annually determines your profitability, your equity value, and ultimately how much you are paying in federal and state taxes.

We often encounter businesses who are understaffed in this area.  Some even see it as a necessary evil but fail to allocate enough resources to hire the right solutions.  A fractional CFO and Controller will provide a cost-effective way for businesses to get the talent they need to succeed at a fraction of what you would pay an employee.  A strong Controller is rarely an effective CFO. A bookkeeper is not a Controller. Every business needs a strong accounting component to understand where they are and where they are going.  Controllers report on historical information.  They make sure your accounting records are accurately portrayed.  CFOs are the forward thinkers.  They spot trends, they establish and review KPIs and provide strategic guidance to help you achieve your goals.

CEFO Advisors has built its business philosophy on strategy, finance, and culture. We use this process to inspire clients to create a connection and foster cohesion in their businesses as well. These core tenants help to establish a solid framework from which businesses can grow. CEFO Advisors works with businesses at all stages of their development whether at startup or with a family-owned company who has been in business for over 100 years.  We add the leadership, accounting expertise and advisory ability to assist you in reaching your goals!

The art of developing a high performing team

There are lessons we learn and then we learn them again. I challenged myself to really listen yesterday when one of our CFO’s at CEFO Advisors, discussed the first 90 days of onboarding a client at our all-staff meeting yesterday.  He meticulously took us through what went well, how the team overcame challenges, and what we learned. He spoke about the way our team worked seamlessly with the client and how trust and respect were developed early on within the process.  He spoke about how we learned and embraced the strengths of each person to guide and establish our process. I watched the faces of the CEFO team as he reviewed what had been accomplished while he praised each member of our team as well as the individuals we worked with at the client, the attorneys, bankers, auditors, and investors.  All of these people contributed to the overall success of that first 90 days.

He explained that although the onboarding process is mapped out during the initial discovery phase, there will be times that we have to pivot and change course to gain efficiencies and establish best practices. The process is strengthened by the acceptance and understanding that it is ok to change course as needed. It is an extremely healthy and accepting way to manage people and processes. There is little in business that is perfect. Successful relationships are built in those moments when you change course for the best results.

What do you need to establish a healthy high performing team?

  • Establish a culture steeped in learning and understanding.
  • Identify the strengths of each individual and assign responsibilities based on those strengths.
  • Understand everyone’s communication style.
  • Develop trust early on.
  • Lead with honesty, respect, and the passion to do what is best for your team and business. 

 I challenge CEOs and business owners to evaluate their culture. Embrace where you are and take steps to make those changes needed to create your best team. Ask the hard questions.

  • Have you developed your team to be a success?  
  • What do they need from you to attain the best results?  
  • Are expectations clearly laid out and followed through on?
  • Is success celebrated?

Balancing strategy, finance, and culture is the key to winning and having a high-performing team.

Life lessons in crisis

Resilience. Stamina. Strength. Hope.  These are words I remember when I think back to 9/11. It was a horrible day filled with resilience, stamina, strength, and hope. I do not ever remember fear. There was no time for fear. That emotion never entered my mind nor the minds of others making their way uptown from Wall Street that day. Old, young, disabled, rich, poor, or destitute, the playing field on that day was leveled. We no longer wore labels. Color, race, and religion did not matter as we all walked the streets together. New Yorkers came together with water, food and clothing. It was the generosity of the NY community on that day that will always be front of mind, and the resilience that followed reminds us all that we can come back.


I thought about that day and the weeks that followed as I maneuvered through the challenge of this last year. Although not the same circumstances, my behavior and that of my colleagues, family, clients, and friends remains resilient and their stamina, although challenged, remains strong.


The difference today from almost twenty years ago, is fear.  This year we felt afraid.  This year we felt anxious.  This year we felt alone. It has been thirteen months since the pandemic forced the world to shut down and that anxiety and fear remains. Our government gave businesses Band-Aids.  Many businesses embraced those Band-Aids:  PPP1, PPP2, EIDL, grants and gifts.  Most businesses made decisions to change their business models, tighten their belts, and make changes that should have been made regardless of the pandemic.  It was not easy.  The path forwards most days was murky at best, but many businesses are stronger today as a result. They were able to challenge and embrace the changes forced upon them, adapt, and reinvent. The fear and anxiety are still here but we are beginning to feel hope. 


I challenge you to take some time to evaluate the last thirteen months.  Were you profitable despite the pandemic?  What changes did you make that you continue to embrace? Some of the changes that we see businesses continue to embrace include:


  1. Financial cushion.  A reserve of 3 months expenses is not enough. The minimum should be 6 months.
  2. Staffing.  We found out we can do more with less.  Understanding capacity and embracing productivity is the key to long-term profitability.
  3. Retention of customers.  Know what your customers need today. It has probably changed since the pandemic. Embrace the changes and support them. This may have an immediate effect on your profitability but will bring long-term rewards.
  4. Retention of staff. Have a strategy that embraces flexibility with accountability. The work will still be the same, but many people found they were more productive when allowed some flexibility in their schedules.
  5. Adaptation to new technology.  Meetings and calls over Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams became the norm changing the way we do business today.
  6. Mediocrity no longer works.  How you measure success will ensure high performance.
  7. Understanding that having a strategy balanced with culture and strong financial reporting is the only path forward.


Only time will tell what the next thirteen months will bring and I encourage you to not forget the lessons learned in the previous thirteen.  Keep them close and remember you are resilient; and you have the strength and stamina to continue to thrive.  Replace fear with gratitude and embrace the knowledge that anything is possible.

Communication in the Workplace: Generational, Gender, and Role Differences

The common workplace certainly has adapted. It has to! (To keep up with the ever changing needs of employees and customers.) This means communication tactics within organizations have shifted as well. There are several factors to explore that have contributed to this shift in workplace communication, including the number of generations in the workforce and the evolution of technology. Despite the differences in generations, gender and professional roles, there are ways to navigate communication in the workplace successfully.

Generational differences in workplace communication – and how to bridge the gap.

For the first time in history, five generations are part of the workforce at the same time. Yes, five! Believe it or not, this is a GOOD thing and business owners have to use it to their advantage. Each of these generations have different communication styles based on their upbringing, experiences, values, and state of the working environment during their career. It’s important to recognize the general differences in communication styles among generations to learn how best to communicate across them. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.

  • Traditionalists were born between 1925 and 1945 and make up the smallest part of the active workforce. This generation is most comfortable with communication face-to-face and via telephone. They started in the workforce when typewriters were commonly used.
  • Baby boomers were born between 1946 and 1964 and were the largest generation until that time. They were accustomed to communication with rotary-style phones and were part of the workforce when conference calls became commonplace.
  • Generation Xers were born between 1965 and 1977 and experienced several major workplace communication innovations, including email, mobile and texting.
  • Generation Y (or millennials) were born between 1978 and 1989 and have officially surpassed the baby boomers as the largest generation. They have a reputation for being tethered to technology and their devices, and their workplace communication style comprises of smartphones and web meetings.
  • Generation Z members were born between 1990 and 1999 and are known for starting a movement back to traditionalist views. Their workplace communication style includes social media, workplace instant messaging, video conferencing and face-to-face meetings.

When communicating across multiple generations in the workplace, remember that language is ever-evolving, so meanings and interpretations of words or sayings may change. When in doubt, use simplistic language that you’re confident everyone will understand, and clarify if necessary. Just to be safe!

Especially when communicating digitally (e.g., text, IM, and email), tone may be difficult to interpret. We’ve all taken offense to an email before when it was hard to interpret tone…it happens to the best of us! When in doubt, face-to-face communication can eliminate any potential translation issues. If that’s not possible, talking can be better than text communication as it allows for a dialogue and the opportunity to ask questions. Even better? A quick video call where you can see the other person’s face, read their expressions and connect on a deeper level.

Everyone – no matter which generation they’re part of – wants to be accepted and make a good impression. (Remember that expression about only getting to make one first impression, so make it good!) The fear that others have a negative perception of them within a workplace with multiple generations is real, so address fears when communicating across generations.

To further complicate generational differences, add in the evolution of technology. In the mid-1980s, collaboration was introduced in the workplace. Since then, digital transformation has allowed for closer collaboration with tools like video conferencing, simultaneous document editing and unified communication (e.g., Google Drive, QuickBooks). These have enabled workplaces to connect on a larger scale.  

With the shift to more remote, work-from-home models, employees are being allowed to do their job on their own team as long as it meets employer expectations. They are frequently using their own devices (read: cell phones) to feel more connected at work when they’re not formally sitting at their desk. (Asynchronous collaboration means everyone can work at different times on the same project and synchronous collaboration means everyone is working on the same task simultaneously.)

Gender nuances in workplace communication – and how to navigate the differences. 

Men and women sociologically have different strengths in communication skills, which can be applied when interacting in the workplace. Because of the inherent differences (à la men “are from Mars, women are from Venus”), tips for effective communication between genders include:

  • Getting to the point quickly and concisely,
  • Standing your ground,
  • And playing to your individual strengths.

Women’s strengths include the ability to read body language and pick up on non-verbal cues, listening thoroughly, and effectively displaying empathy. Weaknesses *can* include being overly emotional, getting off topic easily and using non-authoritative tone and language. Strengths that are overdone can also become weaknesses when it comes to interacting with the other gender as well.

Men’s strengths include physical presence, to-the-point interactions, and powerful body language signals. Their weaknesses tend to include being too blunt and direct, too confident in their own opinion, and insensitive to audience reaction.

How to better communicate across different types of teams in the workplace.

Studies have reported recent growth in teamwork in the workplace. And while there are several team structures apparent in the workplace, the idea is that a team is striving toward a common goal and there’s ascribed roles that create individual and mutual accountability.

The types of teams you’ll see within a workforce include:

  • Cross-functional teams, which pulls team members from different functional areas across an organization to complete a task.
  • Taskforces are usually a group of specialists on a topic used to solve a specific problem.
  • Virtual teams are a group of individuals working toward a common goal from different locations.
  • Self-managed teams are a group of employees responsible for generating all or most of a product or idea and carrying out the execution of goal.

Teams frequently come under fire in execution; sometimes team members do too much or not enough. To best communicate within a group, use these pro tips:

  • Be interested in other people; ask questions that are genuine and actively listen to answers.
  • Show you’re decisive.
  • Make eye contact when you’re speaking to people.
  • Always keep a sense of humor.
  • Be positive and realistic.
  • Consider the message you’re trying to convey, why you’re communicating this message, and to whom the message is directed.
  • Assess the audience and the level of argument your message needs.
  • Be clear, concise, and use plain language.
  • Plan content carefully.

At CEFO Advisors, communication is an essential element of business as we have employees from a variety of different age groups, genders, and beliefs. Using our philosophy of strategy, finance, and culture, we are able to bridge the gap that may exist in the many facets of financial advising for our clients. As a small business, it is our job to use our business philosophy to create a continuation of healthy practices in communication to better interact with clients and coworkers alike.

Put Profit First: Make Your Business A Money-Making Machine

There is definitely not a shortage of business and finance-related books, and it can be overwhelming to pick the best one for what you’re looking to learn more about. Let me make it a bit easier for you and call out one of my absolute favorites that I recommend to every business owner I know – Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz.

Are you ready to learn why?

This book gives a step-by-step guide of how small business owners can be successful using a method called “profit first.” This system creates the opportunity for businesses to fund themselves. It allows your business to serve you instead of you always serving your business. MIC DROP! Who wouldn’t want that? Michalowicz wrote this book because he believes lack of cash reserves is the biggest source of entrepreneurial stress and depression – and he wanted to eradicate it!

Let’s dive into it.

The concept is that you pay into profit with every sale. There should be a predetermined percentage of each sale that gets earmarked as profit. This way you become profitable from day one; it’s not a milestone, but rather a habit. 

Of course, there’s more to this profit first concept than siloing funds. The anecdotes from some of the 175,000 companies that have found this method successful for them is what makes this book such a great read. There is a deliberate simplification of financial concepts – and other explanations of business operation concepts.

Did you start your business because you wanted to do something you love? Or maybe to not be under scrutiny of the common working-class system anymore? That’s great! But you still need to make money. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed with your small business’s finances, try a profit first approach – and watch your business grow and thrive. In the words of Michalowicz, transform it into a “money-making machine.”