CFO Peer Groups: A mid-year update
Since the release of my book, Guide to CFO Success in 2014, I have been reminding CFOs that they need to build and develop their relationships within their organization.
Last fall, when speaking with some of my key Chief Financial Officers that I keep in regular touch with, I was reminded that while CFOs are lonely, there is a solution to their loneliness. These conversations with my Chief Financial Officers led me to develop my CFO Peer Groups.
Starting this past winter, I created 3 groups of 10 CFOs from across the USA and Canada, with the express goal of getting them to talk, learn, share and network with each other. Each month we had scheduled conference calls, with questions from CFOs sent to the group in advance that prepared the group. These CFOs were able to call on their peers both during and outside of our meetings on the issues and challenges facing them.
This fall, we will have our first in-person meeting in Chicago. At this meeting we will take our phone conversations to the next level and set the stage for where we take this in 2016.
Here is a sample of some of the discussions we have had so far this year in CFO Peer Group.
|Topic addressed||Question discussed|
|The ability to grow while stabilizing the core business.||How to grow while investing in the core and changing the culture?|
|Scaling the organization to handle growth efficiently and profitably.||What changes have you made both to the finance organization and encouraged throughout the organization to deal with top line growth year-over-year in the 20%+ range.|
|Having sufficient cash for all initiatives and not wasting time or money to get there.||What strategies have you used that have had success or failure? Why?|
|Integrating 4 recent acquisitions||How have you dealt with integration challenges? Staffing, IT, timelines, etc.|
|Scaling without rapidly increasing costs and maintaining quality||What systems, processes or frameworks have they utilized to be successful in the past?|
|Best practices for managing tight cash flow.||How do you redirect the culture of an organization to be conscience of tight cash flow when the CEO wont.|
|Describe your day to day activities and how this has changed over the course of your tenure||What are your thoughts on how the role of the CFO evolves over time and how do you build your team such that you focus on the highest priorities? What functions report to you?|
|Outsourcing of non-strategic functions||To what extent have you outsourced? What did you outsource? What was kept in house? Which outsource partners would you recommend?|
|Acquisition Process||Do any of you have a well defined non confidential process around acquisitions that cover everything from target evaluation, negotiations, financing, due diligence and all legal documentation through purchase? Or is it more ad hoc project planning as circumstances warrant? In either case are roles and responsibilities clear and what role does the CFO and his / her organization play?|
|The Finance Team||How do you ensure a strong, engaged team? How do you ensure they are treated with the respect they deserve by the non-finance departments? What are some good tips and tricks for finding and retaining a strong team? How do you prevent burnout and staff turnover? How to you create a culture that values the finance staff and the role that they play?|
|Building your Finance and Accounting team||Do you have separate Accounting and FP&A functions? Do you lead each of those functions or do you have a #2 Executive in your department that manages these functions (or others?) If so,|
|Business Unit Structure||Have you structured business units in a complex multi-product environment? If so, how did you do it and what worked well and what didn’t? Would also like to know how you structured the management of the business units|
|I am currently focused on CyberSecurity and efforts to be in front of the issue.||What best practices have you put in place recently? Have you reviewed insurance coverage for security breaches? Recommendations for Outsourced CTO services.|
|Asia expansion.||Anyone have experience with hiring/establishing a local presence in Asia?|
|Budget Planning||Has anyone used Zero Based Budgeting as a means to get deep into spending areas? If so, was it worth the time and how did the process|
|Internal Audit Process||Curious on rigor of Internal Audit Process and role of group within your company (financially vs. operationally focused, approach to audit planning, consultative vs. enforcers, etc.)?|
These are only A FEW of the discussions we have had in CFO Peer Group so far in 2015.
As the year progresses, my CFOs will be sharing, learning, growing and networking, both in our continued conference calls, as well as at our first in-person meeting this November in Chicago.
My questions to you
As a CFO, wouldn’t you want to be able to share these types of questions with your peers?
As a CEO or Board member, aren’t these the types of things you want your CFO to have the support for?
There is help for the Lonely CFO.
Create your own CFO Peer Group. Or ask to join mine. I might be able to make room.