CFOs Driving Corporate Growth
By: Michael Levine, Principal, Advantage Talent, Inc.
Many CFO’s ask me how to increase their job longevity. There is only one answer to this question. Expand job responsibilities beyond assuring the financial statements are presented on time. The senior financial executive has to be actively involved in the growth of his or her company.
Through my CFO and Controller Roundtables and direct communication with many senior financial executives, I’ve learned about ways financial executives are driving the growth of their companies. Examples that fuel the internal corporate growth engine include:
1 Utilizing a variety of financing vehicles to obtain additional liquidity.
2 Working with the executive team to develop sales professional compensation, which rewards salesmen for focusing on sales with greater profitability.
3 Working with sales reps in the field when they encounter perceived internal corporate “red tape”. In many cases, there are opportunities to streamline processes by easing overly restrictive controls or eliminating previously unidentified bureaucratic bottlenecks.
4 Initiating meetings with industry specific business strategists to provide guidance for growth.
5 Evaluating and improving health and other corporate insurance policies to attract and retain employees.
6 Developing tax strategies, which produce significant savings to free up cash for other productive uses.
7 Finding value in liabilities by taking aggressive stance on discounts by vendors, and getting rebates on credit cards, all of which provide cash for growth.
8 Relocating plant controllers to the factory floor vs.‘ivory tower’ offices. This allows them to better see what is going on in real-time. They are part of the floor team and therefore are more accessible to concerns which otherwise would not be communicated to the proper parties for action.
9 Negotiating with banks to reduce account and credit card fees.
10 Doing homework on competitive vendors and using information to achieve best pricing without necessity of changing vendors.
11 Securing State tax credits for software installation (training credit) and Federal Income payroll tax credits for certain geographic areas.
12 Developing strategies on timing of inventory purchases to balance tax reduction, holding costs, and pricing trends.
13 Working with the purchasing department to develop policies and procedures for inventory, supplies, and even capital expenditures to eliminate waste and maximize rebates.
14 Analyzing sales profitability by vendor, and subsequent vendor selection.
15 Analyzing sales profitability by customer, and subsequent ‘firing’ of certain customers.
16 Implementing travel and entertainment policy to maximize cash flow and eliminate waste.
Several CFOs are taking an outward focus and evaluating business opportunities that create competitive advantages. Examples include:
1 Expanding current business territory to increase profitability with limited investment.
2 Creating a strategy and business plan to enter a new business sector.
3 Going on sales calls to better understand challenges being faced by sales reps in the field. One such sales call resulted in development of a customer financing plan with an independent financing company which allows the customer to make payments over time, and also mitigates corporate A/R exposure, helps collect past due accounts and allows company to increase the size of customer orders. As a result, finance is viewed as an asset to the sales team rather than an adversary.
4 Investing strategically in IT (Information Technology) to improve customer experience when interacting with the company website, providing easy product catalog access, allowing customers to efficiently perform their own inquiries on product features, appearance, availability and secure order status updates.
5 Creating online E-Commerce solution allowing customers to purchase directly online which provides for cost savings in customer service areas and improvement of customer satisfaction at the same time.
6 Selecting facility sites for maximum strategic advantage.
By taking on responsibilities that improve profitability and growth of the company, the senior financial executive should be able to better position his or herself for a long-term relationship with their current employer. Come to one of the roundtable meetings and learn about what your peers are doing to drive growth in their companies. Also, contact me with other questions or ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in the CFO Advocate-The Newsletter for the CFO Roundtables.