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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.

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