CEFO Advisors Welcomes Vanessa Farley as a Client Controller

CEFO advisors is thrilled to welcome Vanessa Farley to the team as a Controller. Vanessa joins us with a accounting background in banking, healthcare, insurance, and start-up companies.

“I joined CEFO because the company’s culture aligns with my values.”, Vanessa said.

Vanessa working as a Controller where she will help clients achieve their financial goals while overseeing their daily accounting operations. She hopes to continue expanding her knowledge base while creating and delivering value to CEFO and its clients.

In her free time, Vanessa enjoys traveling with her family, especially to Gloucester/Cape Ann MA, reading, and music.

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

Janice Palmere Joins CEFO as a Client Controller

CEFO advisors is excited to welcome Janice Palmere to the team as a Controller. Janice started her career as an Accounts Payable clerk and grew into her position now as a Controller. Her background varies in several industries including public accounting and software consulting, but she specializes in Construction Accounting. 

“I joined CEFO because after one conversation with Amy I felt excited about my future and all the opportunities and challenges that this company has to offer me. In addition, I felt as though Amy saw my background and skills as assets that would add value to her company so it would be mutually beneficial.  Just felt like a win/win.”, Janice said.

Janice will be working as a Controller where she will help clients achieve their financial goals and teach them how to maintain those goals through implementation of policies and procedures.

In her free time, Janice enjoys spending time with my children, doing things like ice-skating, bowling, magnet fishing or geocaching, whatever they are into at any given moment. She also enjoys day trips, beaches, boats, and anything by the water.

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

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/.

CEFO Advisors Welcomes Carly Dring as a Staff Accountant

CEFO advisors is excited to welcome Carly Dring to the team as a Staff Accountant. Carly joins us with internships in tax and auditing under belt and has spent the last few years working in a Treasury role.

“I joined CEFO Advisors because of the excellent work the company continues to do on a daily basis and the resume the company has built over the years. CEFO Advisors has given me an opportunity to continue to forward my career while being flexible as I raise my family,” Carly said.

Carly’s professional goal is to continue to educate herself within the accounting field and work closely with everyone at CEFO Advisors in hopes to one day take on a leadership role. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, walking their two Labrador Retrievers, and working on a variety of home improvement projects.

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!

Jessica Osso joins CEFO Advisors as Business Manager

The CEFO Advisors team is excited to welcome Jessica Osso as Business Manager! Jessica brings over fourteen years of experience in administrative/office management work to the team including IT and accounting support. We are thrilled to have Jessica and her can-do attitude join us!

“I joined CEFO Advisors because I knew it was a great opportunity to expand my administrative background and expand my marketing skills,” Jessica noted.

While Jessica is our new Business Manager, she will spend a portion of her time focusing on marketing and lead generation. Her contributions to our team will not only help CEFO Advisors but will benefit our clients as well.

During her free time, Jessica loves fishing with her husband especially in Cape Cod!  

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

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.