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June 14, 2017, 12:53 pm

Attention Aspiring CFOs: Are You Adding Value Beyond the Numbers?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business,Career

Becoming a CFO is no longer just about your financial chops. In our fast paced and fluid environment, companies are searching for financial leaders who can think strategically about overarching business needs while at the same time, applying their experiences and persuasive skills to influence members of the C-suite, boardroom, key stakeholders and beyond. In this new context, the CFO is emerging as the advisor who ensures the organization is translating numbers into opportunities. Yet, being viewed as a partner and a trusted advisor is often where many fall short and fail to break out of the accountant mould.

“The CFO has become the new Chief Operating Officer,” said Ross Woledge, CFO Practice Leader for Odgers Berndtson in Canada — a leading global executive search firm. “Traditionally, the finance role was about reporting the numbers. Now it’s about telling the story behind the numbers.” And while some of this competency can be chalked up to how leading CFOs look at the world, some of it can — and should — be learned.

A study of top Canadian financial executives, conducted by Odgers Berndtson, uncovered some interesting trends that defy popular stereotypes of financial leader traits. In examining the psychometric profiles of close to 300 top CFOs and finance executives in Canada, the United States, Asia and Europe, it became clear that the majority of today’s successful CFOs share the following four key leadership characteristics:

  1. Less process driven and rule oriented than other executives: While traditional CFOs might be perceived as set in their ways and detail-oriented to a fault, modern CFOs are much more willing to challenge the status quo and call for change among their executive cohort.
  2. Competitive and driven to achieve: Interestingly, the profile for these successful CFOs is more similar to that of business development executives or entrepreneurial CEOs than it is to that of budget- or control-oriented individuals. This high achievement orientation makes CFOs exceptionally well suited for executive roles — particularly if they’re gunning for future CEO positions.
  3. Resilient, hard-working and self-accepting, which allows them to deal with the pressures of high-profile roles where they’re accountable not only for protecting the financial integrity of their organizations but also, increasingly, for facilitating growth and capacity for innovation.
  4. Strong relationship-building skills, comfortable in the spotlight, which allows them to engage in meaningful interactions with co-workers as well as peers in the C-suite, on the board, and investors alike.

The study also revealed that diverse experience can make a difference. The most successful CFOs build both a depth and breadth of expertise that comes from seeking out as many varied experiences as possible. Among Mr. Woledge’s recommendations for executives looking to advance in financial leadership roles:

  1. Go beyond your accounting designation: Consider developing your capital market skills by pursuing a CFA. Or if you’ve got your sights set on being a CEO, an executive MBA can provide practical skills and know-how that can take your career to the next level.
  2. Take a “corkscrew” approach to your career: Take advantage of opportunities to move out from the comforts of the finance department, to work in different functions or industries altogether. The result is a CFO “who deeply understand[s] how the company really makes money, not just how to read what shows up on the income statement.”
  3. Hone your stakeholder skills: “You can be the smartest person in the room, but if you can’t bring people around to your perspective, you’re going to fail,” noted Mr. Woledge. If you lean towards the numbers-side of finance (vs. the people-side), then consider spending time with your Investor Relations team to hone your media and communications skills. Getting facetime with key stakeholders will enhance your ability to learn their pain points, speak their language, and ultimately, rouse support from among the C-suite ranks.
  4. Take risks and have an opinion: In ultra-competitive economies, CFOs are often called upon to be catalysts for change, to instill a financial approach that reduces costs while also helping other parts of the business perform better. Being an effective change-maker requires a degree of poise, flexibility, and above all else, an openness to dealing with ambiguity that comes from a combination of innate attitude plus the experience to know that taking calculated risks can often pay off with big rewards.

Advancement in any career requires taking on new challenges. You may also consider programs like the Business Leadership for Finance Executives (a partnership between Odgers Berndtson and the Rotman School of Management) that continue to develop the intellectual and emotional agility of finance leaders and critical leadership skills to accelerate their rise through the executive ranks.

And remember: Being a trusted advisor does not happen overnight. As with everything, it takes practice, and being close to the business (whether it’s the sales, marketing, operations or other teams) enables you to hone your approach to running a company.

 

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June 6, 2017, 1:39 pm

5 Reasons ERP is Essential for Manufacturers Trying to Scale

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

One of the most commonly misunderstood features of growth is just how much support and infrastructure it takes to nurture and sustain. Growth is not its own energy source. And once you’ve managed to achieve it, it won’t continue and accelerate unless conditions are just right. That means whatever your situation was before the growth initiated, it needs to change now that your output is on the rise.

Obviously you will need to think about purchasing new machinery, adding new staff, or moving to a larger or newer facility. But you will also need to think about the way you manage operations, forecast orders, cultivate clients, and ensure consistency.

Many manufacturers turn to ERP to handle the data challenges faced by all modern enterprises. What they are pleased to discover is that ERP is an asset at all times, and truly invaluable during times of growth. Here are five reasons it is essential for manufacturers before, during, and after a period of scaling up:

Simplify Data Management

If data management is a challenge now, it does not get any easier once your enterprise has grown. Not only is your output higher, but you are likely relying on more data-driven processes. As a result, even modest growth can multiply the volume of data you currently deal with. ERP makes it easy to funnel all of this new data directly into a system that gives it instant form and function. You don’t need to worry about your administrators or IT managers getting overwhelmed. You also don’t need to worry about valuable data being lost or wasted.

Integrate New Vendors and Distributors

As you grow you will be forming important partnerships with businesses throughout your supply chain. But integrating those distributors and vendors into your workflows is not small feat. The best ERP for manufacturing will make creating and sustaining these partnerships a seamless process. You no longer need to worry about losing an opportunity simply because of administrative hurdles.

Alleviate the IT Burden

Manufacturing ERP should ideally be housed in the cloud for a number of reasons. One of the most significant is that cloud ERP takes away much of the burden of maintenance, monitoring, and security that currently falls to your IT team. If and when you grow, you don’t need to worry about your in-house IT team becoming overwhelmed. You also don’t need to hire more staff. Your technology is already equipped to scale to meet your exact needs and wants.

Eliminate Conflicts and Confusions

Growth brings with it both excitement and uncertainty. It also changes things more broadly and more deeply than anyone expects. When your manufacturing enterprise is undergoing a major period of transformation, you want everyone to work with the same information and insights without fail and without friction. Quality manufacturing ERP creates a common platform through which real-time information flows seamlessly. When everyone needs to be on the same page, ERP makes it easy.

Manage Costs and Seize Opportunities

When you’re adopting new approaches or gaining ground in new markets, it is easy for costs to spiral out of control. It is just as easy to be so focused on the day-to-day that you lose sight of strategic opportunities or vulnerabilities. ERP is an asset during these times because it allows you to see the forest through the trees. Stress and excitement can’t get in the way of your better judgment when you can easily and instantly generate reports and analytics.

Having ERP is a real asset. But not having ERP may be an even greater risk. Make sure your growth survives the short term and carries into the long term by putting the right tools in place today.

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August 12, 2016, 12:37 pm

The world’s most influential lawyers/attorneys and how they got there

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

 

Broadly speaking, people from legal backgrounds hold some of the most powerful positions in the world – from presidents to highly respected journalists and executive directors, there seems to be something about those who have previously studied to be a lawyer or attorney that drives them to rise to the top.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the most influential lawyers and attorneys in the world today, and how they achieved their goals.

Samantha Power

With a distinguished career as a journalist, advocate, lawyer and UN ambassador, Samantha Power has it all. Samantha worked her way through the prestigious Harvard Law school to get to where she is today.

Elizabeth Warren

This Harvard Law professor comes from humble beginnings. Elizabeth Warren is of Native American origin and specialises in commercial law. Despite ruling herself out of the running for the Democratic Party leadership to leave room for Hilary Clinton, she is hotly tipped to enter the political arena in the future.

Bryan Stevenson

Another lawyer with multiple strings to his bow, when not dispensing legal advice Bryan Stevenson can be found working as director of the Equal Justice Initiative, as well as working as an NYU law professor. He is well known for his liberal stance that “forgiveness is a necessary means” of achieving equality.

Vladimir Putin

Believe it or not, Vladimir Putin received his degree in International Law as a student at Leningrad State University (now St. Petersburg State University), which is the oldest law school in Russia. It’s no surprise to learn that Putin’s experiences of university inform his pulls-no-punches leadership style, particularly when it comes to foreign policy.

Barack Obama

As his second and final term as President of the United States comes to an end, it’s easy to forget that Obama worked his way through Harvard Law School as a youngster. Barack must be a quick learner, as he believes law school should take no longer than two years.

Marine Le Pen

Le Pen is a right-wing politician who heads the National Front, the third-largest French political party. Prior to becoming a political figure, Le Pen gained a Master of Laws from Pantheon-Assas University in 1991, followed by a Master of Advanced Studies in criminal law a year later. Le Pen began practising law after this as a lawyer representing illegal immigrants who could not afford a lawyer – ironic, given her political stance on the current refugee crisis.

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May 19, 2016, 3:05 pm

What to Ask Before Getting a Settlement Loan

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

settlement loanSettlement Lenders believes that getting a settlement loan is a very important decision to make. Before going out and getting a loan to cover living expenses or medical bills while waiting for a case to settle in court, Canadians should do some research including a visit to settlementlenders.com. Researching and asking questions is a best practice especially in these types of situations.

The first question to ask yourself before getting a settlement loan or a lawsuit loan is: do I need the money? It is not an easy question to answer and requires a lot of thought and the weighing of many different factors. First, you need to calculate exactly what your current weekly and monthly bills are. Add up the rent, the car payment, the insurance, the utilities, the cable, the internet, child care costs, and anything else that has a regular payment attached to it. Then add expenses that vary such as food and entertainment expenses. Once you have the total amount, write it down.

The next question is what is your current settlement case for? Are you awaiting an inheritance, or have you been injured in a car accident or slip and fall accident? If you have been injured and your injuries are preventing you from working, are you receiving benefits like workers’ compensation? Hopefully you are, but if you are not, then how long will your savings last while you are unable to work? It can be scary to think about, but it is better to consider the potential results of all your options before making a decision on how you are going to continue to provide for yourself and your family as well. Maybe your savings will cover all of those expenses for a few months, but what happens after that? This is when a settlement loan or lawsuit loan can help you.

Who Should Provide My Settlement Loan & How do I Get the Money?

There are a few different providers of settlement loans in Canada and they each have their own advantages. There are a few things to consider if you are looking to get a settlement loan though. Is the settlement loan provider a Canadian company? If your lawsuit is in Canada, you are better off with dealing with a Canadian company that understands all the national rules and regulations. Find out how long the settlement loan provider has been in business. Most financial companies fail within the first 3 years of operation for numerous reasons, which makes it important that you get your settlement loan from an established provider like Settlement Lenders for example which has been serving Canadians for over 30 years and has a client base of over 10,000 Canadians who have been helped.

So once I choose a settlement loan provider, how do I actually get my settlement loan? Every provider has a slightly different process for getting funds to their clients. According to settlementlenders.com the process for getting a settlement loan from $500 to $50,000 is fast and easy with the money getting to the client in one of 3 different ways depending on the client’s preference (monthly installments, lump sum, or line of credit). Clients get their money the following day after they apply and according to the Settlement Lenders Privacy Policy, no personal information is saved or shared after the loan process. Repaying the loan only happens after the client’s case settles and if the case does not settle, the client does not have to repay the loan at all.

If you are looking to get a settlement loan, please ensure that you research a few different websites in addition to settlementlenders.com.

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May 9, 2016, 8:12 am

7 Accounting Tips for Small Business Owners

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Business

You probably didn’t start a small business because you were excited about keeping the books. But even if accounting is your least favourite task, you must stay on top of your business’s finances. Once you lose track, it’s easy for it to slide into a huge mess that you need a professional to fix. Use these tips to get an early handle on the accounting for your business.

Keep Track of Business Expenses

You should separate your business and personal expenses and keep detailed records of your business expenses. An easy way to do this is to set up a business bank account or credit card; then you won’t have to save a million receipts, as the bank or credit card records will be your digital copy of your business expenses. Refer to these records often so you can see how you’re spending your money. You’ll also need them to keep track of tax write-offs for business expenses.

Monitor Your Labour Costs

Labour costs are probably your biggest business expenditure. Do you pay overtime? Offer benefits? How much do you pay yourself? Make sure you’re not over- or under-paying your employees (and yourself!) by taking into account the perks your business offers. If you have money left over in your labour budget, you can offer your employees incentives. If you’re over budget, it may be time to cut the overtime or find a new benefits provider.

Use Online Accounting Software

Unless you have an accounting degree, you’re probably not going to get very far figuring out your business’s budget in an Excel spreadsheet. Online accounting keeps your records organized, offers business insights, and helps you with invoicing, too. The software makes a lot of those complex accounting concerns easy for small business owners to handle, and having all your accounting needs in one place makes your life as a business owner so much easier.

Set Aside Weekly Accounting Time

To keep your business finances in order, you have to sit down with them, uninterrupted, at least once a week. As long as you’ve got a good accounting system in place, going over your finances shouldn’t take more than a few minutes each week. Taking a regular look at your finances helps you see where your business is doing best and where you may need to make some changes. Plus, it makes doing your taxes much easier when the time comes.

Know Your Overhead

You probably know what your rent and utilities cost each month, but are you prepared for legal fees? What about interest or repairs? Every cost of running your business that isn’t direct labour, materials, and expenses counts as overhead. Basically, anywhere you put money that doesn’t directly create a profit is your overhead. Do you know what yours is? Estimating won’t cut it; overhead can cost you more than you intended if you aren’t paying attention.

Keep Detailed Inventory Records

You need to know every detail about your inventory, including when items come in late or when you don’t receive them at all, and whether there was any damage. Similarly, you have to keep track of when products go out to customers. Try out cloud-based inventory software, which helps you manage your inventory and assists you with business-to-business transactions, operations, and sales. The closer you can get your inventory records to real time, the easier your business life will be.

Follow Up on Invoices

Image via Flickr by GotCredit

Invoices, above all else, should be in pristine order at all times. You need to know when they’re due, who has been paid, and who owes you money. If you don’t get paid for services or products rendered, your business’s source of money will dry up quickly. Plus, the longer you let an invoice go without payment, the harder it’s going to be to get money from that client. Invoices are also the best way to figure out which customers you may not want to work with again.

Accounting might not be the most exciting aspect of owning a small business, but it does offer you considerable insight into how your business is running. Keep track of your finances to keep your business healthy!

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