The role of the Interim CFO is challenging since we are often engaged during very serious business crises. Clients frequently engage CFO Insight LLC during periods of high growth, or perhaps major financial losses and declining revenues, instability in the finance or business organization, or CFO turnover. In such situations, our role is critical, in both content and the way in which we perform services.
In such situations, our primary contact at the company is often a major investor, the Board of Director’s or the CEO. We are retained to provide highly qualified, unbiased financial management experience – fast, objective senior leadership to avert a crisis. Our role is to apply unbiased insight to critical business challenges using executive judgment and not a cookie-cutter playbook developed by experts, but applied by inexperienced personnel. As a CFO Insight LLC executive, we have a minimum of 20 years business experience, and a minimum of 5 years as Chief Financial Officer.
We provide immediate, tangible results by quickly assessing the business environment including available resources as it relates to the established goal, developing and prioritizing possible solutions, and ultimately planning and executing to the solution. During this process, we maintain open communications with the primary contact, while maintaining prudent business relationships with the constituencies inside and outside the company. Our officer role often extends beyond the company, since we are frequently responsible for dealing and negotiating with independent agencies, banks and other organizations.
We assume the CFO role as an employee to ensure that we have the authority to deliver results through decision-making and execution, and we avoid being merely a consultant, in which our role would be advisory and much less effective.
Approach to an Interim CFO Assignment
Through discussion with the primary contact, we thoroughly understand the engagement goals and initially frame a solution. Engagement roles may range from that of a caretaker during CFO vacancy, to a highly active decisive executive role to guide the client through a desperate situation.
Regardless of caretaker or crisis executive role, we use the same process – assess the needs, plan solutions, and execute. The difference between caretaker and crisis manager will dictate speed, intensity and results within the organization.
Since our Executives have more than 20 years experience, we have experienced several complete business cycles that range from over-exuberance to downsizing and market contraction. Our broad industry experience, which likely includes the client industry, allows us to tailor a solution that we have implemented earlier in our career to their unique situation. Our careers include various roles during these cycles –perhaps from staff accountant to controller to CFO – and we understand the impact of crisis and rapid solution on the entire organization.
Our approach is simple - using the analytical tools, systems experience, and extensive management experience, we engage those constituents critical to the process. These participants include employees, contractors and outsourced agents, customers and vendors, as well as the expertise of the owners/board members, and major investors as judgment requires.
We rapidly assess the problem using unbiased, yet proven analytical tools, develop a primary plan with a high probability of success and contingency plans when appropriate, and working with the organizations, develop a plan to achieve the immediate business goals. Throughout the assessment and planning process, we establish a rapport with the constituents, and maintain a continuous dialogue with the client contact.
Effective planning requires independent thought to ensure that meaningful and achievable plans are developed and executed. Plans can be either short term, focused on critical needs (e.g. cash flow, profitability, project management and so forth), or longer term. Plans are more effective with the review of an experienced executive. CFO Insight LLC executives work as part of the team, not as an outside consultant, to execute a solution.
During the planning process, we establish laser-like focus on the critical goals, identify the resources necessary to complete the task, evaluate the resources available, and properly allocate the resources to achieve the required results
If we are engaged to prepare near term plans, we also consider the strategic implications to sensitize the leadership team to additional risks and opportunities. As a result, companies avoid costly investments that may be abandoned in the near future. We provide a balanced approach to the planning process.
As we plan the business future, we may also train/mentor others on the staff as to the best approaches to lead the business. In all cases, we establish communications channels up and down the organization, and establish rules of governance to manage more effectively.
Execution will require diligent effort, relentless application of good management practice, and close cooperation with other constituents. Our relationships with other staff members and those outside the company are periodically enhanced since we have no bias to perform certain activities. Our primary role is to establish and execute plans that directly deliver the goals of the owners/board of director’s etc.
Management reporting may be improved to include daily, weekly, and monthly reporting with improved metrics, and delegation of authority throughout the organization. Our experience allows us to more effectively delegate through the organization and carefully manage the process. Many small, entrepreneurial organizations depend on our experience to establish governance, rules for delegation, and business processes to establish reasonable control while allowing the freedom to succeed..
CFO Insight LLC