Taking on the role of CFO is a significant achievement, and your first 90 days in this position present a unique opportunity to set the stage for success. While CFOs are known for their bias toward action, it is crucial to resist the temptation to implement immediate changes without fully understanding the company. Instead, use this time to assess, learn and build relationships that will shape your tenure. Here are key areas to focus on during your initial days as CFO:
Gain a Comprehensive Understanding of the Business
Devote time to thoroughly comprehend the company’s operations, objectives and financial position. Engage with key stakeholders, such as the CEO, department heads and other executives, to gain valuable insights into their challenges and goals. This understanding will serve as a solid foundation for your strategic decision-making.
Optimize Cash Flow Management
Evaluate the company’s cash flow patterns and implement effective cash flow management practices. Identify opportunities to optimize working capital, streamline payment processes and manage debt efficiently. Developing a cash flow forecast will enhance liquidity management and provide valuable insights into the company’s financial health.
Build Strong Alliances
Establish strong relationships with the executive team, including the CEO, other C-Suite members and board members. Cultivate rapport with colleagues, employees and external stakeholders. Building trust and collaboration early on will facilitate effective communication and problem-solving as you navigate challenges together.
Appraise and Mitigate Financial Risks
Identify potential financial risks and develop comprehensive risk management strategies. Evaluate the company’s exposure to market risks, credit risks and operational risks. Implement risk mitigation measures, such as insurance, hedging or contingency plans, to safeguard the organization’s financial well-being.
Evaluate and Improve Financial Processes
Conduct a thorough review of the company’s financial statements, systems and processes. Identify areas that require improvement, such as inefficient procedures or outdated technology. Ensure the accuracy and reliability of financial data and reporting, as well as the effectiveness of internal controls.
Drive Cost Optimization
Identify areas where costs can be reduced or optimized without compromising quality or efficiency. Collaborate with department heads to review budgets, identify cost-saving opportunities and implement expense control measures. Striking a balance between cost reduction and strategic investments is key.
Develop a Strategic Financial Plan
Collaborate with the CEO and other executives to create a strategic financial plan aligned with the company’s objectives. Identify key financial metrics and develop actionable strategies to improve financial performance, manage risk and drive growth. This plan will serve as a roadmap for future success.
Enhance Talent and Foster Continuous Improvement
Evaluate the skills and capabilities of the finance team and identify any areas for development or training. Foster a culture of continuous improvement by providing the necessary resources for professional growth. Encourage the team to embrace innovation and stay ahead of emerging trends in finance.
Assess the Company Culture
Assess the company’s true culture, beyond what was presented during the interview process. Identify centers of influence and understand the dynamics between the finance and accounting teams and other departments. This knowledge will help you navigate the organization’s culture and leverage it for success.
Communicate Financial Insights Effectively
Translate financial data into meaningful insights for non-financial stakeholders. Present financial information in a clear and concise manner, emphasizing key metrics and trends. By providing financial context and analysis, you will empower colleagues and executives to make informed decisions.
Enhance Financial Reporting and Controls
Implement robust financial reporting and control mechanisms to ensure accurate and timely reporting. Review existing policies and procedures, identifying areas for improvement to strengthen internal controls and compliance. Effective reporting and controls are essential for maintaining transparency and accountability.
Study the Digital Environment
Recognize that your firm’s digital investments play a critical role in long-term success and impact every aspect of the business. Dedicate time to understanding the digital environment and its alignment with your long-term strategic plans. Identify opportunities for leveraging technology to enhance financial processes and support business growth.
By focusing on these key areas during your first 90 days as CFO, you will lay a solid foundation for your role, gain invaluable insights and set the stage for long-term success. Embrace this golden opportunity to make a lasting impact on the organization’s financial health and future growth.