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Top 9 Advantages of a Part-Time FD/CFO

Top 9 Advantages of a Part-Time FD/CFO

The quicker you want your company to achieve its goals, the sooner you should consider hiring a part-time FD or CFO.

That’s because a part-time FD or CFO will provide your company with the high-level financial expertise necessary to scale up (things you and your team may not even be aware you need), for a fraction of the cost of a full-time FD/CFO.

Hiring a part-time FD or CFO provides your company with many advantages that really help it to grow and stand out in any marketplace. But here are the top nine advantages you and your employees and stakeholders can expect when you hire a part-time FD/CFO.

1. Cost-saving

By hiring a part-time rather than full-time FD or CFO, you can avoid the often-hefty recruitment and hiring costs (and the delays they inevitably entail). What’s more, you can hire a part-time FD or CFO for a fraction of the cost of a full-time employee. You won’t have to offer a benefits package or bonuses to retain the appointee.

2. Strategic advice

Your part-time FD or CFO will provide you with strategic analysis and support on every financial aspect of your business. A report from the Financial Executives Research Foundation (FERF) described CFOs as “critical to the success of start-up and early-stage growth companies” since they provide key insights.
It found CFOs play key roles in not only managing a young and fast-growing company’s finances but also in setting broader strategic goals and establishing and achieving financial and non-financial milestones.

What’s more, part-time CFOs or FDs can highlight potential threats or risks of which you and your team may be unaware or perhaps don’t know how to deal with.

3. Flexibility

You can use the services of your part-time CFO or FD for what you need when you need it. That could be for a variety of different financial functions or a specific project. This means you and your CFO or FD can tailor the role to suit your company’s needs at any time.

4. Multiple industry experience

Although you can choose to work with part-time CFOs or FDs who have direct experience in your given industry, you can also opt to work with those that have experience across multiple industries. The advantage will be that your CFO or FD will provide you with access to networks and multi-layered insights that you might not otherwise have.

5. Crisis management

The loss of major contracts, customers or employees can be devastating for any business. Your part-time FD or CFO will be able to help you and your team navigate your way out of the crisis. This could include producing short-term cashflow reports, identifying costs that can be cut, producing new financial forecasts, and helping with raising vital funds.

6. Sounding board

Running a company can often be a lonely, stressful experience for CEOs, according to the FD Centre’s Chairman Colin Mills in his book ‘Scaling Up How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash.[1]

He’s seen first-hand what pressure does to business owners.

“I’ve sat in sales meetings with entrepreneurs who had literally been brought to tears by stress and frustration and the feeling that it’s all too much.”

That’s where a part-time FD or CFO can help. He or she can act as an independent sounding board for the over-burdened, stressed-out business owner. With their ‘big business’ experience, it’s more than likely CFOs or FDs can provide solutions to what can seem like overwhelming problems to the CEOs of growing businesses.

7. Mentorship for your team

Part-time CFOs help to establish sound reporting systems and tools that help improve reporting metrics and communications to investors. They can also act as mentors to members of your existing finance team, guiding them where necessary and providing the advice they need to rise to new challenges.

8. Access to a national and international network

If you choose a part-time CFO or FD from an organisation like the FD Centre, you’ll benefit from the expertise from all the FDs in its worldwide network. That’s hundreds of years of experience in every aspect of finance—all for a fraction of the cost of employing a single full-time FD.

9. You won’t get left behind

If you’re still hesitating about whether now is the right time to hire a part-time FD/CFO, consider the sorry tale of Kodak—a company that got left behind, despite once being one of the most powerful companies in the world.

Kodak was once known for innovation (being the creator of the Box Brownie camera, Kodachrome film and the Instamatic).[2] Here’s what’s remarkable—a Kodak engineer Steve Sasson developed the world’s first digital camera way back in the mists of time (actually, 1975). Okay, it was the size of a toaster, took 20 seconds to capture low-quality images which had to be viewed on a TV. But still… it had the potential to disrupt the market massively.

The company poured billions into developing the technology to take photos using mobile phones and other digital devices but delayed acting on it due to fears digital technology would destroy its film and photographic developing business. It failed to act fast enough and to identify the opportunities posed by digital technology.

On January 19, 2012, Kodak filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012, then exited its legacy businesses and sold off its patents.[3] It re-emerged in 2013, albeit in a vastly slimmed down version of its former self.

If you want to avoid becoming a post-script or salutary tale in your market, appoint a part-time FD or CFO. He or she will provide you and your team with strategic help and advice to recognise threats and to seize opportunities—thanks to vast experience and expertise.

The FD Centre offer the services of part-time FDs or CFOs with big business experience who can use what they know to help your company achieve rapid yet sustainable growth. What’s more, they’ll help remove fear, confusion, and stress from the entire process.

To discover how the FD Centre will help your company to scale up, call us on 0861 127 280 or contact us here.

How it works

The FD Centre’s part-time FDs use a proven framework known as the ‘12 Boxes’ to identify where the problems are within any business. They use it to review every aspect of your company’s finance function and identify every problem area.

They will help you to understand your company’s finances and not only eliminate cash flow problems and identify cost-savings but also to improve profits.

They can also help you and your team to understand your main profit drivers; find and arrange funding; identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help you to expand nationally and internationally; and build value to make your business more attractive to investors or buyers. To discover more about the 12 Boxes, click here.

Need help?

To find out how an FD Centre part-time FD or CFO will help your business, contact us now on 0861 127 280. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, click here.  You can see how they add rocket fuel to any business here.

What people are saying

People are talking about what they really think of The FD Centre’s part-time FDs. Find out what they’re saying here.

Where are you going wrong?

You can identify strengths and weaknesses in your business in just nine minutes with the F-Score click here now. Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive an 8-page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Click here now to take the F-Score.

Got a Big Question?

Have a burning question for one of our team of FDs? Just ask it here, and you’ll get an answer within 24 hours. The question must be finance-related (sadly, they can’t predict who will win Wimbledon).

[1] ‘Scale Up: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash’, Mills, Colin. BrightFlame Books, 2016

[2] ‘The Moment It All Went Wrong for Kodak’, Usborne, David, The Independent, https://www.independent.co.uk, January 20, 2012

[3] ‘Kodak’s Downfall Wasn’t About Technology’, Anthony, Scott D., Harvard Business Review

https://hbr.org, July 15, 2016

Where to find the cash you need

A lack of cash can not only stall your company’s growth but also place its very existence under threat.

It doesn’t matter how profitable the business may be; cash flow problems can place it under severe pressure, according to the FD Centre’s Chairman Colin Mills in his book ‘Scaling Up How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash.[1]

“You might think you’re immune from danger because your business is experiencing a high level of growth, but you’re wrong: expansion can exacerbate the problems caused by poor cash flow management,” he said.

“You almost always have to make investments and bring certain expenses on ahead of achieving the higher revenue and cash flow that comes with successful growth.”

It is the oxygen every business needs to survive.

“The stark truth is, without cash your business will be unable to meet its payroll obligations, default on payments to suppliers and creditors (payables), and ultimately cease trading.”

Fortunately, there are ways to find cash both from within your business (by improving processes, cost-cutting and selling off unused assets) and from traditional and alternative external funding sources such as banks, invoice factoring companies and crowd-sourcing platforms.

Getting the cash your company needs earlier rather than later can not only save you and your employees from unnecessary stress but also help you to achieve more rapid growth as the following example illustrates. One of the CFO Centre’s American clients had over-hired which caused it to run into cash flow problems.

But with the help of the CFO Center, the company was able to survive the blip and then attract one of the ‘Big Three’ automobile manufacturers in the US—Chrysler—as a client.

“They were really bumping up against their credit line of $US500,000,” recalled the CFO Center’s Bill Starr in ‘Scaling Up. “We came in, restructured their financing and their forecasts, and in a couple of months we were able to get them a new line of credit for $2 million,” he said. “That effectively allowed them to invest in the growth of the company.

“A year after we were engaged, the client won a massive deal with Chrysler. Chrysler conducts vendor analyses on the financial position of its vendors, and this company got a green light across all areas that Chrysler reviewed them on.”

Look within your company first

While many business owners automatically look to external funding sources, it pays to look closer to home first.

“Most entrepreneurs don’t realise there is often considerable funding to support growth from within their own business,” says Mills. “That’s because the collection of customer receivables can often be improved through strong credit control and the level of stock holding reduced through improved systems and processes. In some instances, poor negotiation of supplier payment terms means fewer funds are available within the business to support scaling up.”

So before you pick up the phone (or click your mouse) to apply for external funding, consider the following methods for freeing up cash within your business.

Declutter

If the business has machinery, equipment or large amounts of stock that is idle, consider selling it or renting it to other businesses.

Remove unnecessary overheads

Look at all your overheads to see if they can be lowered. For example, consider reducing staff numbers, or not replacing employees when they leave or moving premises to get a more favourable lease.

The head of the Australian CFO Centre Stephen Copplin recalls how one part-time CFO was asked to help a fast growth branding business that had got into trouble with cash flow. Most troubling was a looming $AUD 500,000 tax bill.

At the company’s headquarters, it was easy to see why the company was struggling: the carpark was crammed with ‘flashy’ company cars.

A conversation with the owner revealed he did not have a good grasp on his financials. He didn’t know how to improve his margins and had no idea how much his product was costing to produce.

So he was advised to sell the cars and make half the staff redundant.

“We were really hard with the guy; we took a firm line with him, but he did all the things we suggested he do to get his business back in order,” the part-time CFO said. “That was three or four years ago, and today his scaleup growth has delivered the cash flow and sustainability, to where he should have been if he had the financial nous beforehand.”

Negotiate better terms with vendors

Ask for more favourable payment terms from your suppliers. This doesn’t necessarily mean asking for reduced prices but could be as simple as requesting an extra seven days for your payment window.

If your suppliers refuse your request, look for other suppliers who can offer lower prices or better payment terms for the same quality of the product.

Resolve late payment issues

Make your payment terms clear to minimise the possibility of late payment issues. Try to keep to the same terms for all your customers (for example, a 30-day window for payment of the invoice). Get agreement to your payment terms from all your customers or clients. Carry out credit checks on all new customers or clients. Ensure that invoices are issued promptly. Ideally, you should issue invoices by email on the day of completion of the job or project and ensure that overdue payments are pursued.

Get deposits for large projects or orders. Build a deposit (of anywhere up to 50% of the total cost) into your contract for large projects or orders. This is especially important if the projects or orders are likely to involve a lot of resources and time.

That way if the customer decides to cancel the project or fails to pay the balance on the project or order, you have at least recovered some of the cost of the resources and time you’ve already invested in it.

Look for External Funding

You should also consider external funding sources to help ease your cash flow challenges. There are a dizzying number of sources to consider, both traditional and alternative (which is why you should use the services of a part-time FD or CFO to identify the best method for your company and help you navigate your way through any such process).

Apply for a bank overdraft

A bank overdraft has been the traditional form of funding for many businesses. But these days, banks are more likely to try to steer their clients to other forms of debt that provide the banks with more security.

While overdrafts are usually quick to set up, they have a major drawback, and it’s this: banks can call them in on demand.

Request a bank loan

The advantages of bank loans are that they are for a set term with regular repayments and that the banks can’t call the money back on demand. The downside is that banks will demand strong security for the loan such as a personal guarantee secured on the assets of the business or even the owner’s personal assets.

Use asset financing

Using your assets as collateral for the loan is one of the easiest ways your growing business can get access to quick cash. However, there is a drawback: not all assets are considered equal.

Typically, lenders will only consider assets that they can sell quickly if you default on the loan. Therefore, they usually want high-value assets with a low depreciation rate or high appreciation rate, and which are easy to convert into cash.

Get alternative financing

The alternative finance market includes a wide variety of financing models including peer-to-peer lending, crowdfunding and specialist finance providers offering products such as selective invoice finance and invoice trading platforms.

The benefit is that since they have greater flexibility than traditional funding sources they can often offer a faster turnaround on the right deals.

Invoice Discounting

The advantage of invoice discounting, in which banks and invoice discounting companies lend money secured against your debtors/receivables, is that you can borrow up to 80% of the invoice amount within 24 hours.  So you get the cash flow benefit and the rest when the money is collected.

The disadvantage is that it can cost more than overdraft or loan charges so it may have a bigger impact on your profit margins.

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending

P2P platforms match lenders directly with borrowers so that you can borrow money from individuals. The huge benefit of this is that the rates are favourable and often much better than any other type of lending method. The disadvantage is that you will still have to undergo a credit check and possibly pay an application fee.

Equity-based crowdfunding

The way it works is that people come together on the crowdfunding websites to pool money towards a particular venture or idea in return for an equity share in your business. The issue with crowdfunding though is that it’s not as easy as some people make it out to be, as it requires months of planning and lots of marketing in order to get people excited enough about what you are doing to contribute money towards it. There’s also the risk that you don’t receive the amount you’re seeking, in which case any finance that has been pledged will usually be returned to your investors, and you will receive nothing. If you’re successful, there’s the risk you give away too much control in your company. This could have an impact later when you decide to sell the company.

The easy way to raise cash

Of course, you can make the finding or raising of cash a much easier process by engaging the services of a part-time FD or CFO. For example, the FD Centre (and CFO Centres) offer the services of part-time FDs or CFOs with big business experience who can use what they know to help you uncover or obtain the cash you need to help your company achieve rapid yet sustainable growth. They will help remove the fear and confusion from the entire process.

To discover how the FD Centre will help your company to get cash and scale up, please call us on 0861 127 280 or contact us here.

How it works

The FD Centre’s part-time FDs use a proven framework known as the ‘12 Boxes’ to identify where the problems are within any business. They use it to review every aspect of your company finance function and identify every problem area.

They will help you to understand your company’s finances and not only eliminate cash flow problems and identify cost-savings but also to improve profits.

They can also help you and your team to understand your main profit drivers; find and arrange funding; identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help you to expand nationally and internationally; and build value to make your business more attractive to investors or buyers. To discover more about the 12 Boxes, click here.

Need help?

To discover how an FD Centre part-time FD will help your business, contact us now on 0861 127 280. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, click here.

Where are you going wrong?

To identify strengths and weaknesses in your business in just nine minutes with the F-Score click here now. Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive an 8-page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Click here now to take the F-Score.

Got a Big Question?

If you have a burning question for one of our team of FDs, ask it here, and you’ll get an answer within 24 hours. Please note the question must be finance-related (sadly, they can’t predict who will win the Rugby World Cup, Cricket World Cup or even the US Masters Golf Tournament).

[1] ‘Scale Up: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash’, Mills, Colin. BrightFlame Books, 2016

The FD Centre SA

Why and how you should scale up your business?

If you consider what sets companies like eBay, Alibaba, Netflix, Google, Starbucks, Apple, Cisco and Dell apart from other companies, their ability to continuously innovate and create high growth will probably come high on your list.

So should the fact they’ve all successfully transitioned from start up to scale up status without losing their ability to be dynamic and entrepreneurial.

Then there’s the fact they’ve helped create thousands of full-time and part-time jobs throughout the world. Twenty-three-year-old eBay, for example, employs 14,100 full- and part-time employees while Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc. has 88,100 full-time employees.

In his book, Scale Up!, the FD Centre’s Chairman Colin Mills defines scale ups as companies which have grown by 20% a year for a minimum of three years and which started the three year period with a minimum of 10 employees.

Scale ups disrupt and revolutionise entire industries, according to a Deloitte & THNK report. “They embody ingenuity, innovation, and foresight,” its authors concluded after studying 400,000 enterprises worldwide.

There’s a common misconception that only start ups can be innovative, dynamic and entrepreneurial. Yet as scale ups like Google and Alibaba illustrate, that’s far from the case.

Perhaps start ups attract more attention because there’s so many of them: it’s estimated that there are 300 million start ups globally. By comparison, only a tiny fraction of start ups ever survive long enough to make the transition to scale up, according to the authors of the Deloitte report.

“Our research shows that the chances of a new enterprise to ascend as a scale up are around 0.5%, which means that only 1 out of 200 surviving new enterprises will become a scale up. ‘Unicorns’ make up the even smaller subset of scale ups; only 104 start ups are valued over $1 billion.”

Those companies that do become scale ups help to boost local, national and international economies. They provide direct, ongoing employment and that, in turn, creates more consumer spending which in turn stimulates the economy and expands the tax base.

Or as business guru and venture capitalist Daniel Isenberg says in Scale Up!, “One venture that grows to 100 people in five years is probably more beneficial to entrepreneurs, shareholders, employees and governments alike, than 50 which stagnate at two years.”

Contrary to what many policymakers believe, start ups don’t help economies to flourish or cause per capita income to rise.

“The relationship between per capita income and entrepreneurial activity is generally negative, rather than positive as is often believed,” wrote Scott Shane, Professor at Case Western Reserve University, in Entrepreneur magazine. He referenced a Gallup Organisation survey which compared per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with the fraction of the population that reported being self-employed in 135 countries. It showed that the self-employed fraction had a negative linear relationship with the log of GDP.

“That is, self-employment rates are lower in rich countries than in poor ones.”

But growing a company past the start up phase is not without its share of challenges, whether they are related to employees, sales and marketing, operations, administration, or finance. Most importantly, if growing companies don’t have the right infrastructure to support their expanded operations, those challenges can become increasingly severe.

“While on paper, they may have the revenue, the manufacturing base or customer reach of a substantial business, the culture, the controls, the processes, the personnel and the leadership remain those of a much smaller business that they were a short time before,” says Mills in Scale Up!.

“Worse, they haven’t yet accumulated the resources to build and maintain that infrastructure.”

If the situation is not resolved, the business will outrun itself (cash reserves will dwindle as it tries to meet the expanded demands) or get stuck (as the owner and employees find themselves unable to cope with the problems).

But if you revise your business model, you can overcome these challenges or even avoid them altogether.

“You need to consider your whole business model, because if you have a terrible business model, then the last thing you want to do is to start scaling it,” says Mills.

The FD Centre’s part-time FDs or CFOs help clients revise their business model using a framework known as the ’12 Box’ approach.

It has three levels:

  1. Operational
  2. Strategic
  3. Business Support

Operational

This refers to finance operations and focuses on two key aspects: cash and profitability. There are four boxes: Cash Flow Management and Profit Improvement (which generate money), and Internal Systems and Reporting (which generate time for management).

Strategic

This involves your finance strategy: how are you going to finance the business to achieve future cash and profits? The four boxes in this section cover: Risk Assessment, Strategic Funding, Strategic Activities and Exit Planning, and an Implementation Timetable.

Business Support

This involves crucial tasks such as compliance, tax planning and legal issues, banking relationships and outsourcing. In the case of The FD Centre’s FDs (and the CFO Centre’s CFOs), they don’t carry out the tasks but instead, manage the work on a client’s behalf. They’ve built relationships with the right people in each country where they operate so that they can connect clients with the right supplier at the right cost when they need it, and then manage the work on their behalf.

Take the F Score: Find Your Future Challenge Areas

To help you identify which one of these 12 areas is a potential current or future pain point for your business, the FD Centre/CFO Centre has created a quick assessment form known as the ‘F Score’. (It will only take nine minutes to complete.)

The F Score features a series of questions built around the 12 Boxes, designed to identify your areas of strength and those which represent a gap. When you’ve completed the questions, you’ll receive an eight-page report which will reveal your current or future challenges. It will not only rate the performance of your company’s finance function but also uncover untapped opportunities for non-linear growth.

To discover how the FD Centre will help your company to scale up, please call us now on 0861 127 280 or contact us here.

Free 1-1 Finance Session

Do you have a burning question about any of the following:

  • Cash flow management
  • Funding
  • Profit improvement
  • Exit planning
  • Reporting
  • Getting the most from your bank?

Book now for your complimentary 30-minute finance breakthrough session with one of our part-time FDs/CFOs. Get the answers you need to scale up your business.

Ask the FD

If you’ve got just one finance-related question and you’d like us to send it across to our team of top FDs, please let us know, and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours.

Confessions of part-time FD’s!

Leaving lucrative and secure C-suite positions mid-career to build a part-time portfolio might seem crazy but many of those who’ve done it say it is one of the sanest decisions they’ve made.

Take Michael Citroen, who at 58 years old is a 14-year veteran of the part-time portfolio job world. The former Group Finance Director (FD) relishes the challenge and excitement of working with half a dozen SMEs in his role as a part-time FD. “It’s nice going into different businesses and meeting different people and having different challenges to deal with. There’s so much more variety every day.”

He particularly likes that the businesses he deals with are all at different stages of growth. Some are very new, others are more established, and a couple have been guided through a sale with his help.

Citroen had been working full-time as the Group FD of a large privately-owned company when he made the decision to go freelance.

“It was getting very political,” he recalls of his former company. “And I also wanted to be in control of my own diary,” he says.

So, in 2003, he resigned and joined FD UK, a company that offered part-time FDs to SMEs. When that company was bought out by the FD Centre five years later, Citroen stayed on and is still working with them today—part of an expanding international network of part-time portfolio FDs.

“That’s another great aspect of working within a network of part-time FDs: there’s massive backup. If there’s anything you need to know, you just ask the network, and you’ll get answers back really fast. I wouldn’t have that if I was working alone.”

Besides the enjoyment of working flexibly with entrepreneurs and with other part-time FDs, Citroen says he values the security that being a part-time FD with half a dozen clients brings.

“You don’t have all your eggs in one basket,” he says, explaining that if one client leaves he knows he can attract and retain another, so his income isn’t at risk.

“The FD Centre is very focused on helping its part-time FDs to win new clients,” Citroen says. “I could never have done as well as I have if I’d had to do it on my own. I had no idea about marketing and the technical aspect of things like websites when I first began.”

Like many people starting out on the part-time path, Citroen had been worried about giving up a salary with perks initially. “To begin with it was a little insecure, giving up a regular job.”

He quickly discovered that the financial return you get is contingent on the amount of energy you’re willing to expend.

He realised early on the new lifestyle would enable him to spend more time with family whilst maintaining a good level of income.

“It gave me time to be with them without having to answer to anybody.”

It’s something that another part-time FD Neil Methold has appreciated about this way of working. Being a part-time FD for the past six years has meant he’s been able to play a large role in his teenage son’s life: getting him settled into senior school and being able to attend almost every one of his sporting events.

“If I’d been working full-time I wouldn’t have been able to do that. And that’s priceless,” says 53-year-old Methold.

Like Citroen, Methold has found the move into the part-time portfolio world beneficial in so many ways. Not only has he been able to enjoy more family and leisure time but he’s had the pleasure of coaching and mentoring people working within his clients’ companies.

“My greatest satisfaction comes from coaching and mentoring people within these companies so they become self-sufficient and can do more and more of the work themselves.

“Nowadays I say to clients ‘My success here will be inversely proportionate to the number of days I charge you. In other words, the more I can get your people to do the work on a daily basis the less I have to do’. I see it as my responsibility to ensure the work is done, not necessarily to do it all myself. I think that has a significant impact on client retention.”

So too does learning to adapt your style of working to each client, says Methold. It wasn’t something he was aware of when he first started out, he confesses.

“But one day, I was mowing the lawn and thinking it all through in my head. That’s when I realised I was being too harsh, too demanding, too assertive, too telling. You have to be direct in a big company because there are shareholders and high expectations.

“But that doesn’t work with SMEs. You have to use a different style—you have to be softer and more accepting that things don’t necessarily move as quickly as they do at large corporations and that there are going to be different priorities.”

It was when he began to adapt his style of working to suit each client rather than going in “full guns blazing” that he started to enjoy much better relationships. It’s why he has retained his clients for so long, he says.

“You can’t go in and be all corporate. SMEs don’t want that. They want someone they can trust and rely on and build a good relationship with. A friendly face. Not just a very clever big shot. You need to be down to earth and be people-focused.

“When I really accepted that and started to slow down my own pace I become more accepted. You have to adjust and be a bit of a chameleon to suit how they are and not how you think they should be.”

Citroen says the ability to communicate is critical in your role as a part-time FD. “You have to have the ability to talk to your clients on a personal level and to be able to relax with them. Clients will call you late at night or on a weekend because they’ve had an idea they’re excited about and want to share with you. People who can’t handle that aren’t successful as part-time FDs.”

Both he and Methold agree that time management is key to success in the part-time portfolio environment.

“Although I’m not in contact with my clients every day, I do keep in touch with them every week, whether it’s a phone call, text or email,” says Citroen. “It’s all part of the relationship I have with my clients.”

Successful part-time FDs need to take the initiative when it comes to client contact, says Methold. “You have to work really hard at proactive communication with your clients. It’s easy then for them to see you are valuable. I will go to see a client, and on the way home have three 20-minute conversations with three other clients who I haven’t been with that day just to keep moving them forward.

“You have to commit to doing that extra stuff. You can’t just go in for a day, leave and send a bill.”

This obviously takes a lot of organisation, and that’s another skill a successful part-time FD must have (or develop!), he says.

“I have various lists, so I know what I have to do and at what point each week to make sure I don’t drop any balls because when you have lots of clients doing different things, it’s very easy to forget stuff.

“You need to be aware of what’s happening with each client and what you last spoke about. You can’t go, ‘Ah, can’t remember that last meeting. Sorry.’ When they are talking to you, you are their FD.”

Being willing to deliver such high-quality service is something that makes a difference when it comes to client retention, he says.

“Clients really do value that you put yourself out to ring them at the weekend or speak to them late at night or when you’re on your holiday. That s when you and the clients really do start to cement the relationship.”

The relationships you have with clients is what helps to make this such a rewarding way of life, he says.

Citroen agrees, adding that working full-time for one company pales in comparison with working part-time across a number of growing businesses. “The job satisfaction you get working as a part-time FD is enormous. I would definitely never go back to full-time employment.”

To succeed, you need to embrace the “F” word!

What do Sir James Dyson, the Mercedes F1 team, Pixar, Google and the airline industry have in common?

They’re hugely successful, yes, but the thing that links them is they never shy away from the ‘F’ word—Failure. Instead, they face and learn from their mistakes, errors and mishaps. So says Matthew Syed, award-winning Times journalist and best-selling author of ‘Black Box Thinking: Marginal Gains and the Secrets of High Performance’ (John Murray).

“We have an allergic attitude to failure,” he says. “We try to avoid it, cover it up and airbrush it out of our lives.

“For centuries, errors of all kinds have been considered embarrassing, morally egregious, almost dirty.

“This conception still lingers today. It is why … doctors reframe mistakes, why politicians resist running rigorous tests on their policies, and why blame and scapegoating are so endemic.”

This notion of failure needs to change, he writes. “We have to conceptualise it not as dirty and embarrassing, but as bracing and educative.”

That’s because success in business (as well as in sport and in our personal lives) can only happen when mistakes are confronted and learnt from and there’s a climate in which it’s safe to fail.

It’s what the airline industry has done so successfully, he says. Instead of concealing failure, the aviation industry has a system where failure is inherently valuable and data-rich, says Syed.

In fact, his ‘Black box thinking’ refers to the black box data recorders that all aircraft must carry to provide information in case of accidents. One box records instructions that are sent to all on-board electronic systems and the other records the voices in the cockpit.

“Mistakes are not stigmatised, but regarded as learning opportunities,” he says. After a crash, an independent team investigates.

“The interested parties are given every reason to cooperate since the evidence compiled by the [independent] accident investigation branch is inadmissible in court proceedings. This increases the likelihood of full disclosure.”

What’s more, after an investigation into an accident is completed, the report is made available for everyone.

“Every pilot in the world has free access to the data,” writes Syed. “This enables everyone to learn from the mistake, rather than just a single crew, or a single airline, or a single nation.”

Syed gives the example of United Airlines Flight 173 which took off from JFK International airport in New York on December 28, 1978, bound for Portland Oregon.

Just before the airplane went into land, the flight crew became convinced the landing gear hadn’t locked into place. They then spent so long trying to fix the problem that they ran out of fuel and had to crash-land into a residential area, killing eight people on board.

An investigation discovered that the flight engineer hadn’t been assertive enough in telling the Captain the fuel was running low. The Captain meantime was obsessed with trying to fix the landing gear problem and avoid giving passengers a bumpy landing.

As it turned out there had not been a problem with the landing gear in the first place.

Afterwards, new protocols were put in place and training methods were revised. As a result, nothing quite as bad has happened again.

So much so that flying on airplanes is now safer than any other form of travel because the industry investigates and learns from its mistakes.

“Openness and learning rather than blaming is the instinctive response – and system safety has been the greatest beneficiary,” Syed told Director magazine.

Dyson Vacuum Cleaners

Sir James, the designer, inventor and entrepreneur, is another committed to learning from failure.

He made 5,127 prototypes of his bagless vacuum cleaner before he got it right. This practice has obviously paid off because Sir James is now worth more than £3 billion.

“Creative breakthroughs always begin with multiple failures,” says Sir James. “…True invention lies in the understanding and overcoming of these failures, which we must learn to embrace.”

Without them, innovations won’t happen, he says. “Failures feed the imagination. You cannot have the one without the other.”

Great inventors always develop their insights not from an appraisal of how good everything is, but from what is going wrong, Sayed wrote in the Daily Mail.

Using Failure To Grow Your Business

Obviously, failure is only useful if it’s acted upon. “You can build motivation by breaking down the idea that we can all be perfect on the one hand, and by building up the idea that we can get better with good feedback and practice on the other,” says Syed.

Some of the world’s most innovative organisations like Pixar, the Mercedes F1 Team and Google “interrogate errors as part of their strategy for future success.”

Take Google’s decision to test which shade of blue in its advertising links in Gmail and Google search worked best, for example.

Rather than ask its designers to choose the shade of blue for those links, Google decided to run tests known as ‘1% experiments in which 1% of users were shown one blue and another in which 1% of users were shown another blue. Then Google went further and ran 40 other experiments showing all the shades of blue.

It paid off: Google found the perfect shade of blue (the one that users were more likely to click on) and made an extra $200 million a year in revenue.

Why Don’t Companies Embrace Failure?

One of the biggest problems in business is the collective attitude we have to failure, says Syed.

“We love to think of ourselves as smart people, so we find mistakes, failure and sub-optimal outcomes challenging to our egos,” Syed said in an interview with Director magazine. “But the reality is, when we’re involved in complex areas of human endeavour—and business is very complex—our ideas and actions not being perfect is an inevitability.

“If we’re threatened by our mistakes, and become prickly when people mention them, we don’t learn from them. We need to eradicate the idea that smart people don’t make mistakes.”

To really be successful, businesses need to encourage a company-wide failure-embracing culture which in turn will create a “process of dynamic change and adaptation”.

“Success happens through a willingness to engage with, and change as a result of, our failings. Get that right and everything else falls into place,” he says.

If you would like to download the FD Centre’s report on Risk you can do so here

You can also arrange a complementary 1:1 Finance Breakthrough Session with one of SA’s top FDs here

 

What You Can Expect from a Part-time Finance Director

The idea of hiring even a part-time FD may seem to some SMEs a bit OTT—like paying Quentin Tarantino to make a 90-second home page video or booking Wembley Stadium for the company’s five-a-side friendly football match.

But for companies whose ambition is to get into and survive the coveted scale-up phase, hiring a part-time FD makes perfect sense. They know that they’re getting a finance veteran, someone with big business experience, who can provide the guidance they need to grow rapidly and help them to avoid the costly mistakes that so many ambitious SMEs make as they attempt to move into the Big League.

As Colin Mills, the Chairman of the FD Centre, said in his book about scale-ups, “The reality is that there is great value in having someone from the next level if you’re aspiring to get there.”[1]

Companies who hire part-time FDs understand that today’s FDs are capable of delivering far more than bookkeeping or accounting services. They provide advice and analysis and implement practices and processes. They can work with your board of directors and external stakeholders such as your bank or investors. They can also advise you on mergers and acquisitions. Besides strategic analysis, they can provide advisory support on everything finance-related in your business.

Their responsibilities might cover business planning, capital structure, risk management, auditing and reporting, tax planning, capital expenditure, investor communication, R&D investment, working capital management and company budgeting.

Companies that don’t hire FDs are often unaware of the opportunities and profits they’re missing out on. When asked why so many SMEs don’t hire FDs, Matthew Bud, Chairman of the international Financial Executives Networking Group, said business owners are either unaware of their need for a FD or reluctant to spend the money.[2]

What many entrepreneurs don’t realise is that they’re already spending that money in lost profits and misspending,” he told Inc.

“They’re not seeing the dynamics of the business from an educated financial point of view. You can’t always go with your gut in making financial decisions, which is what a lot of entrepreneurs try to do.”

So, what can you expect from a part-time FD?

Well, the role a part-time FD will play in your company will depend on factors such as the size of your business, your expectations, your industry, and your corporate strategy and business goals. But a good FD will work on your company’s finance strategy and finance operations and manage areas such as compliance, tax planning and legal, outsourcing and banking relationships.

To achieve success in these different roles, a FD will need outstanding hard and soft skills.

If you’re a CEO, the FD will be your strategic partner, providing financial insight and strategy and helping you to improve profitability and cash flow.

A good FD won’t, however, be a ‘Yes’ person, someone who rubber-stamps every initiative without due diligence.

Charles Holley, CFO-in-residence at Deloitte and former Walmart CFO, says good FDs are independent-minded yet supportive of their CEO.[3]

My CEOs counted on me to be the truth teller, to form my own opinions on important company decisions and to speak up. At the same time, they expected my support for execution.”

Great FDs challenge the business, he says. They point out problems and propose possible solutions to “spark the debate”.

FDs are in the best position to call attention when the numbers aren’t supporting the strategy. For example, FDs can push the business to change capex priorities when the underlying ROI assumptions are no longer supported by the numbers.”

Besides being a trusted advisor and sounding board, a good FD will help to raise efficiencies, identify opportunities, manage risk management, and manage capital structure.

Since they speak the language of financiers and understand what they are really interested in, FDs can also liaise with financial institutions, investors, and auditors on your behalf.

In other words, a part-time FD/CFO can help you to manage the transition into the scale-up phase more smoothly and ensure you reach your growth targets sooner.

How it works in practice

The FD Centre’s part-time FDs use a proven framework known as the ’12 Boxes’ to identify where the problems are within any business. They use it to review every aspect of your company finance function and identify every problem area.

They will help you to understand your company’s finances; eliminate cash flow problems; identify cost-savings, and improve profits.

They can also help you and your team to understand your main profit drivers; find and arrange funding; identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), help you to expand nationally and internationally; and build value to make your business more attractive to investors or buyers.

To discover more about the 12 Boxes, click here.

Need help?

To discover how an FD Centre part-time FD will help your business, contact us now on 0808 164 8902. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, click  here.  You can see how they add rocket fuel to any business here.

To hear what people really think about the FD Centre’s part-time FDs, click here.

Uncover strengths and weaknesses

Identify the strengths and gaps in your business in just nine minutes with the F-Score.

Just answer a brief series of questions, and you’ll receive an 8-page report that will reveal potential current or future pain points for your business. It will also help you to rate the performance of your finance function and uncover untapped opportunities for growth. Click here now to take the F-Score.

Got a Big Question?

If you have a burning question for one of our team of FD ask it here, and you’ll get an answer within 24 hours. Please note the question must be finance-related (sadly they can’t give horse-racing or fashion tips or relationship advice).

[1] ‘Scale Up: How to Take Your Business to the Next Level Without Losing Control and Running Out of Cash’, Mills, Colin, Brightflame Books, 2016

[2] ‘Here’s When, Why and How to Hire a CFO (And Yes, You Can Afford It)’Tabaka, Marla, Inc., www.inc.com, June 27, 2016

[3] ‘What CEOs want—and need—from their CFOs’, Holley, Charles, Deloitte, www2.deloitte.com

 

What a Part-time Finance Director can do for your company

You might think a Finance Director’s role is confined to traditional finance activities, but today’s FD’s (or CFO’s) can add invaluable strategic direction to your business.

In the past, an FD’s responsibilities might have been confined to high-level accounting such as providing timely financial statements and monthly management reports, managing investments and expenses, monitoring cash flow, and managing risk. But as the business landscape has become more complex over the past decade, the role of an FD has changed.

That change is due to factors such as the global financial crisis—the biggest since the Great Depression of the 1930s, disrupted and volatile markets, the rise of big data, and the impact of digital and social media.

As a result, CEOs and their Boards expect so much more from CFOs, according to a KPMG report.[1]

“CEO’s are increasingly looking to their finance leaders to help drive wider business strategies,” says Simon Dergel, author of ‘Guide to CFO Success’. [2]

They expect FDs to make decisions and shape their plans based on the company’s ambitions, he says. As the keeper of the company’s data with an understanding of every department’s objectives and performance, they can play an active role in refining and aligning business strategies.

“Perhaps the biggest change in terms of the CFO’s role in business today is that their advice is not only valued—it is necessary,” says Dergel.

“Businesses are currently dealing with a wave of disruptive competitors and fast-changing customer expectations, while also managing a global talent shortage and volatile financial conditions. The wisdom and experience of finance leaders make them indispensable in the boardroom as companies look to tackle one of the most uncertain economic periods in decades.”

Most importantly, CFOs are delivering on these expectations. The new breed of FDs are now much more forward-looking. They wear three ‘hats’ at any given time: financial expert, active management team member and leader of the finance function.

Given the opportunity, they can perform multiple roles within a company, working both on and in the business. Not only can they direct financial performance and protect the financial integrity of the company but they can also drive strategy.

This is borne out by James Riley, the Group Finance Director and Executive Director of Jardine Matheson Holdings Ltd., who says, “A good CFO should be at the elbow of the CEO, ready to support and challenge him/her in leading the business.

“The CFO should, above all, be a good communicator—to the board on the performance of the business and the issues it is facing; to his/her peers in getting across key information and concepts to facilitate discussion and decision making; and to subordinates so that they are both efficient and motivated.

“Other priorities for a CFO are to have strength of character, personality, and intellect. I take it as a given in reaching such a position that an individual would have the requisite technical knowledge and financial skills.” [3]

How Start-Ups and Scale-Ups Benefit?

[4]

It found FDs play key roles in not only managing a young and fast-growing company’s finances but also in setting broader strategic goals and establishing and achieving financial and non-financial milestones.

When the company is at a stage when it needs external investment, the part-time FD can manage the process to ensure it raises the right type of funding from the right sources. The part-time FD can also provide more comprehensive reporting as well as manage the relationship with the external investors, whether they are venture capitalists, private investors or banks.

Part-time FDs also help to establish sound rep

orting systems and tools that help improve reporting metrics and communications to investors.
They also play a key part in setting and monitoring company strategy and maintaining a balance between investing in growth, building market share and preserving capital for future opportunities.

As they grow, the need for a part-time FD’s financial and strategic acumen becomes more acute, FERF found.

The FD Centre’s part-time FDs bring these skills to every client at a fraction of the cost of their full-time counterparts. For instance, its part-time FDs can:

  • Provide you with an overview of your company so that you can make sound decisions about its future.
    • Help you to understand your company’s finances.
    • Eliminate cash flow problems.
    • Identify cost-savings within your company.
    • Improve your profits.
    • Create a realistic business plan and so make better financial decisions.
    • Help you and your management team to manage your finances with ease.
    • Develop clear strategic objectives.
    • Identify your Critical Success Factors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
    • Find and arrange funding.
    • Understand your main profit drivers.
    • Identify your best customers.
    • Sort out your tax position.
    • Introduce timely, easy to follow management reports.
    • Facilitate expansion in your country and into other countries
    • Build value to make your company more attractive to investors or buyers

To discover how a part-time FD will help your business, visit our website www.fdcentre.co.za or call 0861 127 280 today to enquire further.

[1] ‘The Changing Role of the Chief Financial Officer’, Mbatha, David, KPMG

[2] ‘What Makes a Great Modern CFO?’, Dergel, Simon, Oracle, https://blogs.oracle.com, June 7, 2017

[3] ‘THE ROLE AND EXPECTATIONS OF A CFO A Global Debate on Preparing Accountants for Finance Leadership’, International Federation of Accountants, www.ifac.org, 2013

[4] ‘Center Of The Storm: The CFO’s Role In Start-ups And Rapidly Growing Companies’, Financial Executives Research Foundation, www.financialexecutives.org, March 28, 2017

Win a copy of Scale Up!

Share and like our The FD Centre SA page and stand a chance at winning a copy of ”Scale Up” written by Colin Mills, Founder of The FD Centre and CFO Centre Group. Winner will be announced on 22 October 2018.

 Sponsors & Prizes:

  • Prize – a copy of “Scale Up”

 Competition closes on 21 October 2018

To enter, “Like” and “Share” our Facebook page:

www.facebook.com/thefdcentresouthafrica/

Please read the terms and conditions as set out below.

 

TERMS & CONDITIONS:

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN.
The competition is sponsored by The FD Centre South Africa. This contest is governed by these official rules. By participating in the contest, each entrant agrees to abide by these official rules, including all eligibility requirements, and understands that the results of the contest, as determined by sponsors and its agents, are final in all respects.

This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. Any questions, comments or complaints regarding the promotion will be directed to the sponsors, not Facebook.

ELIGIBILITY
The contest is open to legal residents of their respective countries where not prohibited by law, who are eighteen (18) years of age or older at the time of entry who have Internet access and a valid e-mail account prior to the beginning of the Contest Period. Sponsor has the right to verify the eligibility of each entrant.

COMPETITION PERIOD
The competition begins on Mon, 01 October at 11h00 and ends on Sun, 21 Oct 2018 at 17h00. All entries (submissions) must be received on or before the time stated during that submission period. Sponsors reserves the right to extend or shorten the contest at their sole discretion.

HOW TO ENTER
You can enter the competition by “Liking” the sponsors’ Facebook page. After submitting the required information, the entrant will receive one (1) entry into the draw.

WINNER SELECTION
All eligible entries received during the Submission Period will be gathered into a database at the end of the Submission Period. Every entrant will be allocated a number and using a random number generator the winner will be chosen accordingly. The winner will be announced on or about Monday, 22 October 2018. Announcement and instructions for prize will be displayed on Facebook. Each entrant is responsible for monitoring his/her Facebook account for prize notification and receipt or other communications related to this competition. If a potential prize winner cannot be reached by Administrator (or Sponsor) within five (5) days, using the contact information provided at the time of entry, or if the prize is returned as undeliverable, that potential prize winner shall forfeit the prize. Upon the request of the Sponsors, the potential winner may be required to return an Affidavit of Eligibility, Release and Prize Acceptance Form. If a potential winner fails to comply with these official rules, that potential winner will be disqualified. Prizes may not be awarded if an insufficient number of eligible entries are received.

PRIZES:

  • A copy of “Scale Up” written by Colin Mills

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The Rising Power of AI in Financial Services

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already transforming the way in which financial services companies are doing business.

More and more of them are using AI to process information on their customers, cut costs, save time, monitor behaviour patterns, assess credit quality, automate client interactions, analyse markets, assess data quality and detect fraud.

A pwc Digital IQ 2017 survey found that 72% of business decision makers believe AI will be the business advantage of the future.[1] About 52% said they’re currently making “substantial investments” in AI, and 66% said they expect to be making substantial investments in three years.

Franck Coison, Industry Solution Director, at international IT services company Atos says the four main types of AI are facial and voice recognition, natural language processing, machine learning, and deep learning.[2]They can be used in chatbots, document analysis, process automation or predictive analysis, he says.

Although robotic process automation (RPA) is increasingly common in financial services, it is usually used for quite simple, repetitive tasks, says Coison. “In contrast, AI can be used to automate more complex tasks that require cognitive, or ‘intelligent’, processes.

“While RPA is appropriate for back-office and accounting processes, when it is combined with AI, any process including customer-facing activities can be automated.”

That means it has great potential in areas such as customer service, sales and customer intelligence, IT services, fraud prevention, and cyber security, he says.

The pwc survey found that adoption of practical machines that think is widespread in the financial services sector. Some banks use AI surveillance tools to prevent financial crime, and others use machine learning for tax planning. Many insurers use automated underwriting tools in their daily decision making and wealth managers offer automated investing advice across multiple channels.

A provider of next-generation investment analytics Kensho Technologies has for example developed a system that allows investment managers to ask investment-related questions in plain English, such as, “What sectors and industries perform best three months before and after a rate hike?”.[3] They receive answers within minutes.

AI is proving popular among banks too. Lloyds Bank, for example, has invested £3billion on its digital transformation initiative, which includes using AI to “simplify and progress modernisation of its IT and data infrastructure, as well as other technology-enabled productivity improvements across the business”.[4]

Terry Cordeiro, Head of Product Management at Lloyds Banking Group says AI has “completely transformed how the finance industry works, with the vision at Lloyds being to use smart machines for extending human capabilities while using data to respond.

“Automating processes means better opportunities to reduce costs for better decision making, and intelligent products mean that our customers are able to do much more,” Corderio says.

Earlier this year, NatWest Bank introduced ‘Cora’, an AI-powered ‘digital human’, which converses with customers in its branches.[5] Cora can answer more than 200 queries, covering everything from mortgage applications to lost bank cards.

The plan is to develop Cora so it can answer hundreds of different questions, as well as detect human emotions and react verbally and physically with facial expressions. As well as being put in branches, Cora could be used by customers at home on their laptop or PC and, in the long run, on smartphones.[6]

Finance departments are also benefiting from AI. The insight into data that it can provide will be a competitive advantage, according to Matthias Thurner of the Corporate Performance Management and Business Intelligence solutions provider, Unit4 Prevero.[7] “For this reason, AI will become integral to finance functions in every industry,” he says.

As technology improves, AI will become faster and smarter at providing analysis, he says. Companies that don’t use it will be at a competitive disadvantage.

“Businesses don’t want to replace their employees, but they do want to make better financial decisions, and AI will allow them to do that faster and cheaper than a whole team of humans.”

It will enable skilled office workers to spend more time on their core competencies rather than maintaining data, he says. This will help organisations to reduce costs and the time spent on manual tasks or the classifying of data.

Likewise, FDs will benefit from AI data analysis, says Thurner. That’s important since there’s an increasing expectation for FDs to be a source of business insight. Boards want more frequent reports that contain more context and detail. Fortunately, they will be able to deliver more detailed and more frequent reports thanks to AI, he says.[8]

But it’s unlikely an FDbot will appear in finance departments any time soon. “We can expect machine learning to powerfully augment human expertise and experience in the near future even if that’s not a reality today,” says Thurner. “AI can provide data back-up and make suggestions to help the human decision-maker, but it’s the CFO who ultimately has to decide what to recommend,” says Thurner.

With so much potential in key areas of business, it’s no wonder that AI is being hailed as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“AI will have an impact as big as electricity and will transform every single industry,” predicts Cordeiro of Lloyds Banking Group.

To discover how a part-time or interim FD will help your company, please call the FD Centre on 0861 127 280 or visit our website now.

[1] ‘Artificial intelligence and digital labor in financial services’, pwc, https://www.pwc.com

[2] ‘Artificial intelligence: the new power in financial services’, Coison, Franck, Director of Finance, http://dofonline.co.uk, May 21, 2018

[3] ‘How Artificial Intelligence Will Redefine Management’, Kolbjørnsrud, Vegard, Amico, Richard, Thomas, Robert J., Harvard Business Review, https://hbr.org, November 2, 2016

[4] ‘Artificial intelligence ‘transforms financial services’, Alger, Leah, Software Testing News, http://www.softwaretestingnews.co.uk,June 19, 2018

[5] ‘How does NatWest keep up-to-date with online banking trends?’, Alger, Leah, Software Testing News, http://www.softwaretestingnews.co.uk, June 15, 2018

[6] ‘NatWest Bank tests Cora, an AI bot that will answer customer questions’, Jones, Rupert, The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com, February 21, 2018

[7] ‘Here are the human CFO traits that no artificial intelligence can replace’, Thurner, Matthias, Diginomica, https://diginomica.com, March 12, 2018

[8]  ‘Do CFOs have what it takes to be AI educators?’ Thurner, Matthias, Finance Director, www.financedirector.co.uk, February 21, 2018

 

Why Hollywood Actors Should Get Training From from FDs

You shouldn’t be surprised to discover that Meryl Streep, Robert De Niro, Hugh Jackman, Gary Oldman among many other Oscar-winning actors and actresses bear a grudge against Finance Directors.

It’s easy to understand why. For although the likes of Streep and Oldman have achieved fame, fortune and critical acclaim, they can usually only inhabit one role at a time. They take it on for a few months and then move on to the next.

A great FD, by comparison, is the master or mistress of multiple roles and can switch between them easily and effortlessly. What’s more, they perform those multiple roles day in, day out for weeks, months and even years.

That’s because an FD is there to help the business owner achieve the company’s objectives by providing financial and strategic guidance to ensure it meets its financial commitments and to develop policies and procedures to ensure its financial management is sound. The Institute of Directors says the FD is “often viewed as the member of the board who creates a solid foundation upon which a business can grow”.[1]

It’s why a typical FD job advertisement features a huge list of responsibilities. These will often include the following and more:

  • Providing strategic financial leadership to optimise the organisation’s medium to long-term financial performance and strategic position
  • Contributing fully to the implementation of organisation strategy across all areas of the business, challenging assumptions and decision-making as appropriate and providing financial analysis and guidance on all activities, plans, and targets
  • Providing robust financial reporting and analysis to the Board of Directors, Finance, Risk and Governance Board and Corporate Management Team including the provision of financial support to strategic decision-making and transactions
  • Working with senior management to steer the business towards the goal of greater financial independence and sustainability
  • Providing cash management – monthly cash flow reporting and long-term strategic cash management
  • Overseeing the preparation of VAT and other statutory submissions
  • Developing and ensuring compliance with financial policies and controls
  • Presenting annual accounts to the General Meeting.
  • Risk management and reporting – maintenance of the organisation’s risk register ensuring control processes are fit for purpose
  • Developing an IT strategy which supports the organisational strategy.

Although FDs aren’t expected to be able to speak in an accent, swordfight or ride a horse as actors are, they are expected to have accountancy qualifications, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, the ability to manage complex stakeholder relationships and to provide strong attention to detail with commercial and strategic acumen.

So, as you can see, at any time during an FD day, the FD will be a sounding board/mentor for the CEO (and sometimes the only one to point out the flaws in a ‘blue sky’ idea), strategic advisor, bookkeeper, financial controller, risk management advisor, finance team leader, recruitment advisor and much more.

Being able to adapt to any one of the roles comes from experience. The FD Centre’s part-time FDs, for instance, have all had years of experience working in large corporations. They’re used to working in complex, demanding environments and switching roles as the need arises.

Unlike actors, FDs don’t perform as they do for applause or for a gold-plated statuette (although many would be very, very happy if you offered to pay them in real gold bullion). They do it to help business owners like you take your fledgling business to new heights of success.

What’s more, you can be sure that the FD you hire won’t ever pull you aside before or during a meeting to ask, “What’s my motivation?” *

To discover how an FD Centre part-time FD or CFO will help your business, contact us now on 0861 127 280. To book your free one-to-one call with one of our part-time FDs, just click here.   

* [Note: No Oscar-winning Hollywood actor or actress was harmed during the writing of this article.]

[1] ‘What is the role of the Finance Director?’, Factsheet, Institute of Directors, https://www.iod.com, May 2017

 

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