What Makes a Great CFO?By Rebecca Morrison, published on May 17, 2019
In this installment of Lola.com's Weekly Financial Digest, we share articles about the traits of a great CFO, IPO lessons and more
What happened in corporate finance last week?
With so much corporate financial content published each week, it’s easy to miss things that you need to know about. If you did miss something, don’t worry about it. The team at Lola takes time each week to find and summarize the best corporate financial content. That way, you never miss any must-read content.
So, what do we have for you this week?
- 3 lessons from Wistia founder, Chris Savage, about raising $17.3M in debt
- Learnings from Fastly as it gears up for its IPO
- How you can add more intelligence to your finance team
- And a whole lot more!
Let’s get to it.
What Makes a Great CFO?
Big question from the team at FM Magazine, right? Luckily, they asked the former chairman of Microsoft, India to answer that question. His answer was three things:
- Great CFOs are solution-oriented. Rather than finding a problem and saying, “you can’t do that,” great CFOs find the solution and present that.
- Understand the business end-to-end. Great CFOs should understand more than just their department, their numbers, their employees.
- Great CFOs have great leadership skills. This means more than being the boss, this means aligning your team behind one single goal.
Become a great CFO with these lessons from FM Magazine.
How to Build a Strategic Relationship with the CIO
If your company has a CIO, it should be your job as a CFO to align that relationship. Don’t just take it from us, though. That’s also what the people over at CFO.com say. To make this happen, you have to do two things:
- Forge a relationship. This doesn’t mean become BFFs. It means develop a mutual understanding in how you work. From your standpoint, the CIO just wants to spend money. From the CIO’s perspective, it’s your job to say, “no.” You need to solve that misalignment first.
The second step? Well, you’ll have to read the full piece to find out.
Google and Facebook Victim of $100 Million in Accounts Payable Fraud: How It Could Have Been Prevented
You’ve probably heard about the guy who scammed Facebook and Google out of $100 million (if not, click that link and read about it).
The two tech giants were scammed using a pretty sophisticated phishing scheme. But, the fact that these two companies were scammed at all proves that every company needs to watch out for these things.
According to AppZen, this sophisticated scheme could have been prevented with a true electronic invoicing system, rather than just an email address that accepted invoices. Both companies also should have required verification of work activity, rather than just a P.O. number to process invoices.
Read the article from AppZen so you reduce your chances of getting scammed.
5 Learnings from Fastly as It Gets Ready to IPO
Last week, we covered Slack’s IPO. This week, it’s Fastly’s turn. Although they’re not as well known as Slack, they’re still pulling in $200M in ARR. So, they’re worth paying attention to. Here are a few things the team at SaaStr noticed about Fastly:
- It’s possible for freemium to scale up to $100k+ deals. Fastly operates on a freemium model, but have 227 customers that pay over $100k per year.
- High revenue retention is a common theme among SaaS companies who IPO. Fastly is no exception with 130% revenue retention.
- Fastly only has 58 sales reps. That’s a pretty small amount for a company with the ARR that they’ve got.
More to learn from SaaStr on this one.
Must Reads for Honing Focus and Managing Your Time
If you’re constantly dealing with distractions and less-than-ideal time management, then this piece from First Round Review is for you. They’ve spent years writing about the time management best practices of CEOs, and now they’ve organized all of those learnings into one article.
Here are our favorite reads from their article:
- Fend off distractions by observing triggers and making pacts
- Compromise on “sand,” not on “rocks” — and embrace your inner laziness when it comes to email
- Engineer your schedule according to your energy
Get all the takeaways in the full article.
How to Add More Intelligence to Your Finance Team
To be clear, this article from Oracle isn’t talking about just firing everyone on your team and hiring smarter people. “Intelligence” in this sense is talking more about digital intelligence -- analytics, AI, things of that nature.
There are two main ways you can upgrade your finance team’s intelligence. First, you can focus on upgrading the technologies your team uses. There’s a chance you’re using technology that doesn’t allow you to get everything you can out of your data. Audit the tools and software you use to determine if you’re getting what you need or if something is missing.
Next, conduct a skills audit of your team. If you find any areas that are lacking, it might be time to invest in some training, or hire more people who can help cover these skills gaps.
Either way, you should read the rest of this piece from Oracle.
3 Lessons Learned From Raising $17.3 Million in Debt
If you aren’t familiar with Wistia, they’re a video-hosting and analytics platform. They recently raised $17.3M in debt in order to buy out their investors. Why’d they do that?
Well, the short version is that the founders of the company realized that they didn’t want to go public, they didn’t want to sell, and they didn’t want to close up shop (they are a thriving business after all). So, their best course of action was to buy the company back from their investors.
They learned a ton in the process of raising debt, and the lessons provide some food for thought if you’re looking to raise money for your company.
Podcast of the week: How to Teach People to Think Like a CEO
This one isn’t strictly focused on finance, but there are plenty of valuable lessons for finance pros. In episode two of our Agile Operations podcast, our CEO, Mike Volpe, interviewed the CEO of Talla. The two of them discussed a bunch of things, but most importantly, they talked about the importance of having all of your employees think like a CEO.
This thought process can have a number of positive impacts on your business. It’ll help your CEO get more useful feedback, make your feedback looks better, and even help your team determine the right timing for company-wide meetings.
What did you read last week? Find us on Twitter and let us know!