CFO’s Corner: Ian Charles of Host Analytics

CFO’s Corner: Ian Charles of Host Analytics

Ian Charles is a strategic CFO with broad financial experience and a passion for building businesses. Having amassed 15 years of experience in senior finance roles, Ian was the CEO of IMC Capital Partners, where he led many successful software investments and advised technology startups in strategic development and financial analysis. Ian was CFO at RMG Networks, a digital media firm backed by Kleiner Perkins that grew rapidly and executed multiple acquisitions to establish a leadership position in digital out-of-home media. Ian was a founder and CFO at Rex & Co, SVP of corporate development for UNX, and vice president and equity research analyst for SG Cowen. He started his career as director of corporate development for AOL Time Warner, leading new acquisitions and strategic partnerships. We asked Ian a few questions about his experiences as a CFO: Q: You spent many years on the investment and corporate development side of things. What made you want to become a CFO? A: Good question. When you spend as many years as I did in corporate development and as an analyst in banking, you learn many things about a business and what drives it. You learn and understand the nuts and bolts of the business – R&D investment, customer growth and retention, revenue, employees, costs, cash flow, and how the key metrics illustrate strengths and weaknesses. So it was a natural step into the CFO’s seat. As CFO, one has purview and influence over the entire organization from a numbers point of view and my background of Corporate Development and as an Equity Analyst created a natural transition. After all, who is...
5 Tips for Better Business Budgeting

5 Tips for Better Business Budgeting

You’ve worked hard, you’ve paid your dues, and you’ve climbed up the corporate ladder, and now you’re the CFO of your company. While being a CFO demands a high level of financial knowledge, your expertise in the field may cause you to gloss over some of the simplest parts of business budgeting. The job you have is extremely demanding, and for this reason, it’s difficult for anyone in your position to remember every tiny detail of business budgeting. Fortunately, we’ve compiled a mini-guide with some basic business budgeting tips and reminders for all CFOs. Spend Time Creating a Budget That Works Make sure that you spend enough time and effort on creating a budget that works for your company. Without the strong foundation of a steady budget, you’re setting your company up for financial turmoil. Even though it may seem tedious, take your time and create a budgeting system that works. Remember to make it unique to your company’s needs. Additionally, be sure to check in with your budget and to make modifications whenever necessary. Keep an Eye on Your Company’s Fixed Expenses If your company’s fixed expenses, such as rent, utility bills, payroll, etc. feel steady and reasonable, then they are probably in a good place, although it still doesn’t hurt to check up on them even if they seem fine. If the fixed expenses are fluctuating frequently or seem ridiculously high, then you might have a problem. Even though fixed expenses may feel like an afterthought, be sure to keep an eye on them to ensure that they never get out of hand. Nothing takes care of...
The Consequences of Quick CFO Turnaround

The Consequences of Quick CFO Turnaround

The unexpected departure of a high-level executive in any company will usually warrant some degree of organizational restructuring. Sometimes the higher-ups are easily replaceable; other times, their exits can lead to big problems. In 2015, the turnover rate of CFO’s in S&P 100 companies was about 25%. This is a surprisingly high number that affects many people besides the employees and executives of the businesses that the CFOs are parting ways with. So what accounts for the increase in CFOs leaving their companies after only one or two years of service? There are several reasons: Clash between the CFO and company culture. Sometimes the personality traits or management style of a CFO conflict with the culture or mission of the company they work for. This is more likely to happen when someone from outside of the organization is brought in to solve a problem, as opposed to someone already in the company working their way up to the CFO role. Lack of growth opportunity. If a recently-hired CFO discovers that there’s less opportunity to grow the company or achieve their goals than expected upon taking the job, they may lose their incentive to stick around. Unexpected responsibility. The role of a CFO can vary a great deal depending on the company or industry they’re in. If their expectations about what the job entails are different from what the company expects or needs, some dissonance is inevitable. Lack of chemistry with the CEO. When two leaders of a company can’t see eye to eye, something has to give. Opportunity elsewhere. An open position at another company that is in a more desirable industry or comes...
Managing an Acquisition

Managing an Acquisition

A true sign of growth is when a company is ready to acquire competitors or strategic partners. An acquisition is usually an indication of healthy finances and an ambition for expansion. Wells Fargo even reported earlier this year that its corporate clients have expressed increased appetite for negotiating and carrying out acquisition deals. As beneficial as acquisitions can be to an organization, it can be quite demanding in the responsibilities for a CFO. When mergers and acquisitions are often focused on the financial aspect of business, there are many details a CFO must manage with grace, concentration and insightful strategy. To avoid dropping the ball as the CFO in a company acquisition, consider these key factors in handling the nuances of the process. You will successfully bring a new entity into your organization if you take an acquisition step by step and remember the foundation of your role as a financial guide and manager. Making the Deal Even before an acquisition can begin, the CFO must determine if the company is financially able to make such a large-scale purchase and integrate new financial elements into the existing infrastructure. As the leader that monitors stakeholder value throughout a deal, the CFO should do the research to help avoid inadequate pre-close planning, inability to bridge organizational cultural differences and poor post-close execution. With these in mind, the CFO should be identifying, managing and mitigating as much risk as possible to increase stakeholder value and make the most of a deal. CFOs hoping to make the best deal should approach each deal with a perspective of teamwork and realistic financial standards. As...
Improving Post-Sales Satisfaction for a Better Bottom Line

Improving Post-Sales Satisfaction for a Better Bottom Line

Every good CFO knows that influencing her organization takes more than adequately managing the finances or thinking strategically. It requires a broad view of the company as a whole and finding even the smallest and most unlikely elements to change and improve that will affect the bottom line. In a recent survey conducted by CFO Research, 126 senior finance executives of major U.S. corporations revealed one of the most neglected, but apparent places a company can cut costs, gain revenue and have a positive impact on the overall finances is in post-sales. Also known as the retention stage of the customer journey, this is where many customers drop out or turn away from a brand. But with just a little more effort and a few important tactics, any company can prevent losses and enhance the finances. The survey showed that 82% of CFOs say their company could realize meaningful financial benefit from improving customer satisfaction with post-sales service. They believe this area of business is a critical competitive differentiator. To achieve optimal post-sales satisfaction methods, a CFO can drive the following techniques and encourage a company to take full responsibility for this portion of the sales cycle. Better Communication The main obstacle cited by 50% of survey respondents was prioritizing and coordinating post-sales activities. While it is clear who owns certain tasks within the sales cycle, retention is something that often gets lost in the chaos. An evaluation of the sales cycle showed that many professionals are unsure of who should really take ownership of the retention phase with 29% saying customer support, 26% saying sales and 26% saying...
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