President John F. Kennedy once commented that the phrase “crisis,” as prepared in Chinese calligraphy, involved two brush strokes — 1 representing risk, the other chance. “In a crisis, be aware of the risk, but acknowledge the chance,” Kennedy encouraged.
His point is helpful guidance for CFOs addressing the crisis of our occasions — the pandemic’s staggering affect on purchaser demand, hard cash stream, liquidity, doing the job capital, and operate by itself. Continuing social unrest, political acrimony, local climate adjust, and a new presidential administration with a new economic agenda are complicating components.
For some CFOs, the troubles were being far too lots of. Far more than 80 finance chiefs at S&P five hundred or Fortune five hundred businesses handed in their resignations in 2020, in accordance to a analyze by Korn-Ferry, “a impressive figure,” the consulting company said. Though it is pure conjecture to conclude what prompted their exits definitively, surely the confluence of higher-force events played a function, Korn-Ferry posited.
Most likely, in accordance to Korn-Ferry, these CFOs felt so overcome by the crisis that they had achieved a limit of stamina. They were being far too fatigued to place their noses to the grindstone once all over again. In no way is this a criticism. A crisis changes every thing, notably when you have been there before, all over again and all over again.
Facts Tells the Tale
However, a setback like the pandemic has a way of activating basic human ingenuity and resourcefulness. This was apparent in the singularly remote and virtual types of mass operate that kept large businesses running, a operate paradigm that continues.
It is also noticeable in the operate of CFOs to crank out earnings from adjacent marketplaces — the circumstance with the hospitality sector renting rooms to remote staff on an hourly basis and the lots of restaurants that pivoted to on line menu orders and 3rd-bash meal deliveries.
Now, CFOs are acquiring new state of affairs setting up exercises and pulling critical effectiveness indicators out of silos like functions and HR and adding them to financial dashboards. The two routines will enable the CFO be more prepared the upcoming time a black swan event helps make a mess of small business.
Considering the fact that facts is the currency for earning smarter bets in small business, CFOs can be anticipated to invest more capital in their organization’s digital transformation. Unquestionably, the business with the simplest and swiftest accessibility to exact financial facts has a aggressive edge. This is the chance at hand for midsize businesses.
Almost two in a few (63%) midsize businesses depend extensively on spreadsheets to close the guides, in accordance to a the latest international survey by Capstone Insights of one,five hundred midsize businesses (among $a hundred million and $749 million in earnings). The use of spreadsheets resulted in incomplete or inaccurate facts and edition management issues, the respondents stated.
When boards of administrators pressured CFOs for an exact picture of the threats and options, lots of CFOs could not confidently articulate it. The facts informing demand, earnings, accounts receivable, hard cash stream, and liquidity was far too little, far too late, and probably incorrect. Unable to posit a distinct study course, even the toughest trouper could ponder an exit.
When You’re Finished, You’re Finished
For these struggle-scarred CFOs, veterans of previous disasters like nine/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, piloting a study course via but a different mess can experience like just far too substantially of a motivation. Perhaps they mulled other CFO and board options or just preferred more entertaining and enjoyable way of living. Great for them, I say.
But is the “remarkable volume” of CFO go away-using a problem for their previous businesses? Only place, no. New blood may be just what is wanted to reassess the risks introduced about by the crisis and discern out-of-the-box options to rework the duress into dollars.
A new CFO of any age provides a refreshing established of eyes to bear when analyzing threats and options. The new CFO isn’t weighed down by the institutional relationships that stress the skill to make hard but necessary decisions — decisions the prior CFO knew had to be produced but lacked the organizational adaptability to make them.
I know this to be the circumstance from our purchaser base. Just about every time a CFO change occurred, it catalyzed new approaches of executing matters. I recall 1 lately hired CFO who retained a new auditor, a final decision the prior CFO was unwilling to make for the reason that of the company’s longstanding small business partnership with the current 1.
A new CFO can be a highly effective adjust agent when there are no sacred cows. New ideas, procedures, remedies, and persons are liberated to acknowledge chance amid the risk.
Mark Partin is the CFO of BlackLine.