Advisor insights from the field

Posts Tagged ‘ActionCFO’

Growing from Controller to CFO

Monday, September 12th, 2011 by Troy Schrock

The following was developed to help a specific person, but in our experience as ActionCFO advisors, we have found it to have wide application.  A controller who would like to grow into a CFO should focus on the following: 

  1. Build leadership and management skills.  Controllers tend to be great technicians, but they are rarely good managers.  A CFO, however, must be skilled in managing staff and nurturing their professional development.  Of course, this is not a “finance thing;” it’s a management thing.  Effectively delegating, dealing with performance issues, setting staff goals, and identifying specific areas of development for career growth are basic skills requied for any manager to be successful.
  2. Connect business strategy to financial strategy.  Which activities generate the best value?  How do they connect with the business’s value proposition? It is the CFO’s job to provide the financial perspective to strategic discussions with the CEO and executive team.
  3. Shift focus from data to information.  Transactions, recording, compliance – all primary tasks of the controller – are all about data.  But this data is meaningless if it is not converted to information – insights that can be used to make decisions.  A CFO must be able to discern meaningful information from the data. 
  4. Increase time spent presenting relevant information to decision makers within the business.  It is incumbent upon the CFO to talk with leaders and understand what information will help them do their work more effectively.

These skills will move a controller form a rear-looking mindset (recording what has happened) to a more strategic forward-looking mindset (anticipating what will happen).  In determining what the data means and persuasively communicating how it should affect business decisions, it may be helpful to ask these three questions: 

  1. What happened?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. Now what?

The “what happened” should really be handled by the financial staff.  Once that basic analysis has been done, the CFO can focus on “what does it mean?” and “now what?” in helping the executive team make good decisions.


Cash Flow Management Help for Entrepreneurs

Monday, January 31st, 2011 by Troy Schrock

We recently got a nice plug from The Shoestring MBA regarding our recently launched online course about cash flow management, entitled “Cash Rules for Entrepreneurs.”  With permission from author Bill McGuinness, we adapted some of his material from his book Cash Rules, added some practical tips and tools from our experience as ActionCFO advisors, and put together an online tool that we think will be very useful to business owners and CEOs of small and midsize companies. 

You can access this tool at  For a very reasonable fee, you get lifetime access to an audiovisual presentation, podcast, booklet, and helpful review sheets.  If you’ve been looking for a crash course (or just a quick review) of fundamental financial management concepts for your business, I think you will find great value in this tool.

Please be free with your feedback on it.  As we hear back from people, we can continue to improve the tool in the future.


Does Your Business Need Better Financial Visibility and Control?

Thursday, July 8th, 2010 by Troy Schrock

Welcome to the new ActionCFO blog, a collection of insights from certified ActionCFO advisors related to increasing financial visibility and control in midsize businesses. 

The need for strategic financial management is not unique to our struggling economy.  It’s necessary for businesses to thrive in good times and bad.  Unfortunately, many companies do not do it well.  Some recognize this, hire a controller or CFO, and assume that it’s being done better.  But is it?  How can you know?

Are you nervous about seeing financial statements each month?  Are your financial statements routinely late?  Have you ever been blind-sided by a cash shortage?  Do you know what’s on the financial horizon for your company?  These are the things that make business owners nervous, but they don’t have to cause worry for you.  The disciplines of financial visibility and control are easy to learn, and frankly, not that difficult (or expensive) to manage. 

As CFO advisors, we enjoy helping companies perform better in this important area.  That’s why we’ve created this blog – to share thoughts and insights with you as they arise in our work.  Whether you’re a business owner, a CFO advisor, or just someone who wants to better understand the disciplines of financial visibility and control, we hope you find value in our entries. 

And please be free with your questions and comments.  We are learning, too!