CFO Wins and Challenges During Uncertain Times


Stepping into the CFO role… now what?

The trend to take on outside talent versus recruiting in-house has been growing.  Whether you’ve come from an in-house controllership, divisional role, FP&A or another focus, you’re stepping into a particularly critical role given these uncertain times.  Though unlike other roles, both certainty and uncertainty offer a feast of work and responsibility for CFOs.

This blog post talks about what some of the best CFOs we know recommend.  But before we get started, here’s an easy win: get expenses organized and in line quickly with PEX Prepaid Visa Cards.  They allow you to quickly deploy an easily manageable corporate card without the hassles of multiple calls, or complex deployments.  Easily group your employees under sets of rules and limits, and have real-time visibility into spend and your cash position (via mobile or desktop).

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That’s the easy part.  Below are some insights we’ve gleaned from working with numerous CFOs and heads of finance:

  1. Invest your time before and immediately after your hire
  2. Determine the accuracy of the picture you’re presented with
  3. Build your executive team relationships early and build them quickly
  4. Hit the ground running with a ready team without a long discovery process
  5. Task / delegate specialized tasks right away

Invest your time before and immediately after your hire
Get to know your CEO and your board.  These are the most critical relationships you will have in the company.  Understand the dynamic – was your CEO looking for a CFO or was the hire forced on them by their board?  Get very close to your CEO and you’ll know quickly whether you made the right call, and what your work will look like the next weeks, months and year.

Determine the accuracy of reporting on the business
Let’s face it: companies look different on the inside than they do from the outside. Don’t get in the weeds too quickly and lose perspective.  Start from topline data and work your way in.  Obtain a sense of your KPI’s – key performance indicators – to really understand what moves the business forward.

Build your executive team relationships early and build them quickly
Getting to know the other members of your team is vital to your success.  The CFO role is more than a reporting function.  Gathering data easily, collaborating within the company, and influencing financial performance all rely on your ability to play well with others. Start by developing a simple strengths and weaknesses analysis in your head, and revise week over week.

Hit the ground running
Successful CFOs hit the ground running.  Because of typical age and experience, most CFO’s come to the role having a relatively established rolodex, in other words a good list of folks they enjoyed working with before.  Just like tech, there are rockstar players out there. Begin working with your employer before you start to fill critical roles, either with folks you know (the best way forward) or with recruiters you trust.

Task / delegate specialized tasks right away
Need audit? Make sure to line up a firm early, or know who you’re working with.  Need a treasury or controllership function or a Chief Accounting Officer?  Move quickly to avoid getting bogged down by tasks that aren’t a part of your critical tasks, even if you came from that role and feel comfortable there.  You have more important things to do.

At PEX, we’re focused on your business’ expenses.  If you or a member of your team want a quick win for finance, talk to one of our reps about how PEX can help get your expense management quickly under control while equipping your employees with the tools they need to go about their business.

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