25 Quotes from Guide to CFO Success

A number of my followers are excited about the release of my upcoming book, Guide to CFO Success: Leadership Strategies for Corporate Financial Professionals in the United States and Canada on March 31, 2014. (Available in the United Kingdom on April 9, 2014)

While you may have to wait a little longer to get your copy of the book, I extracted quotes from the book I thought might wet your appetite.

If you find you find these quotes relevant and interesting, you can let others know about the book by:

    • Sharing the Slideshare presentation on social media
    • Sharing your favorite quote on social media
    • Recommending the book to someone who would appreciate reading it.

Stay tuned for further updates, including speaking engagements and book signings.

Thank you for your continued support,


The Sleepless CFO

Being Chief Financial Officer can be stressful. The responsibility that the CFO bears for the company they work for is not a 9 to 5 job. Most CFOs I have met and spoken with agree that the role takes up most of the hours they are awake, and even some of the hours they should be sleeping.Couple In Bed With Husband Suffering From Insomnia

So what keeps the CFO awake in 2014?

To find out, I reached out to my CFO Advisory Group. My CFO Advisors were instrumental in providing me with relevant and realistic input as I wrote my upcoming book. Guide to CFO Success: Leadership Strategies for Corporate Financial Professionals is published by Wiley & Sons, and will be available at all fine bookstores end of March 2014.

I recently asked my CFO Advisors what top their top 3 concerns that keep them awake at night. After reviewing their responses, here are the top 3 current issues that are keeping CFOs from getting a good night sleep.

#3 – Team

CFOs are worried about their team. Some CFOs are concerned about how to continue to grow and motivate their staff. Others are losing sleep worried about retaining the staff they need or dealing with the aftermath of unforeseen resignations. There are some CFOs who are unsure of how they will succeed in acquiring and developing the new talent they need to make their team even better.

Regardless of the type team based challenges facing the CFO, they know that they can only be successful if their team is strong enough to support them. When the finance team is not giving the CFO what she needs to succeed, this can cause anxiety and sleeplessness for even the most experienced CFO.

#2 – Growth

Growth can be an issue for many CFOs. Or, rather, the lack of growth is the real issue. Most for-profit companies define success as making more money, and for the Chief Money Counter, growth drives corporate financial success. It is the Key Performance Indicators of this growth that informs the CFO if the company will reach their targets or not.

When companies are continually growing their revenue and profit, all is good. Few companies though, do this regularly and consistently. Financial success for most organizations can only come when sales rise and profitability continues an upward trend. For the CFO, who knows they are king when the results are good, and the court jester when the results aren’t, losing sleep over growth is understandable indeed.

#1 – Cashflow

Cash is King. The ultimate responsibility of whether there is enough cash to do what needs to get done rests with the Chief Financial Officer (even when their team does the technical work). CFOs are concerned with cash from all sides, whether they are collections issues, access to capital and lending or how to make decisions about allocating cash in the most effective way.

Cash is, by far, the most common issue that is keeping my CFO Advisors awake at night. What is interesting about this response is that cash was a concern for most of my CFO Advisors, yet they all come from different industries and company sizes. It seems that cash issues are a challenge in most, if not all companies. While the type of cash challenges will certainly change based on the situation facing a company and its industry, most companies, and therefore most CFOs, are anxious and losing sleep over cash.

What is keeping you awake at night?

Samuel’s 2013 Recap + Top Ten Blogs of 2013

2013 was an interesting year for the Chief Financial Officer. I find it fascinating that the office of the CFO continues to receive more attention from the general business press, vendors trying to make inroads in to the C-suite, and from CFOs themselves that are turning to social media to get feedback on issues where they used to feel lonely. I believe that 2014 will continue on these trends, and I have a feeling that there will be a major trend change in 2014 for CFOs (Stay tuned).

2013 was a very interesting year for me. The highlight of my year was putting together my upcoming book, Guide to CFO Success. It was truly a yearlong process. I started putting the proposal together at the beginning of the year, which led to getting my book deal signed with Wiley. I then created and developed my CFO Advisory Group for my book. These 87 CFOs answered a weekly survey over 14 weeks and gave me (and you) input and anecdotes to support CFO success. I found the writing of the book one of the most challenging professional projects I have ever faced, and can say (after the fact) that it was an amazing personal growth experience. As December and 2013 wraps up, the book is in final production.

Click here to get your own holiday card from Samuel!

With Guide to CFO Success taking up a big portion of my time, I was not able to write as many new blog posts in 2013. Many of my top blogs viewed this year were written in previous years. The power of Google drives people who are interested in these topics. The topics and information in some of these popular blogs have been further developed in my upcoming book because of the interest in these CFO subjects. Stay tuned for new blog postings in 2014.

2013 was a very busy year for CFO Moves, my weekly blog covering CFO hires and unhires in the USA, Canada and the UK. I continue to be impressed by the feedback I get from the people following these blogs, and am grateful that people appreciate the work that goes in to preparing them every week.

2014 looks to be shaping up to be a wonderful year for me and my CFOs. The book will be coming out in March. I am scheduled to present at the AICPA CFO Conference in May. I had some very interesting end of year conversations relating to my upcoming book, and as these things develop, I will certainly keep you in the loop.

Wishing you and your family the very best for the holidays, and a prosperous and successful 2014!

Samuel’s Top 10 Blog of 2013

10) Podcast: Becoming a world-class CFO and Finance team: What it takes, why now, and who’s made it?

9) Why do CFOs Leave?

8) 5 Most Popular Names for CFOs (2013 Edition)

7) Road Map to Successful CFO Relationships

6) Different companies need different CFOs

5) Negotiating your CFO Employment Contract

4) CFOs: When interviewing for your next role, make sure you have one of these

3) Presentation Links: The Road to CFO

2) CFOs: Do you want to become a Controller? This CFO did just that.

1) The First 90 Days of a New CFO

If you’d like to see previous year’s top blogs, click here and here.

Do you have any topics that you would like addressed in 2014? Let me know by sending me a message on LinkedIn or commenting below!


CFOs: It’s not just about Finance anymore

The Shifting Role of Chief Financial OfficersWhat value does the Chief Financial Officer bring to the company they work for? According to recent research by American Express, CFOs around the globe believe they are:

    • Seeing an increase in influence at their companies, and
    • Have more input than ever on improving their company’s ability to deliver value to customer.

CFOs also believe that they need to improve their skills in many areas, including some that are not thought of as “finance skills” such as:

    • Strategic thinking
    • Internal alliance builder
    • Conflict resolution
    • Global business acumen, and
    • Logistics acumen

It is nice to see that CFOs are more positive and upbeat on the value that they bring to their companies. I am a big believer in the value that a CFO can bring to the company they work for. I am also a big supporter for CFOs developing themselves further to meet the real needs of the people they work for.

The question I have is this: Are CFOs really adding value in their environment over and above what is expected in Finance? Maybe. The actual reality is not the perception that CFOs have of themselves, it is the perception that the people that CFOs report to that is most important.

Perception is reality. The perception of the people that CFOs work for is the reality that really matters.


(Note to readers: I apologize for my absence on this blog for the past months. While my CFO Moves blog has been delivering every Monday morning like clockwork, I have been spending a significant amount of time recently on my upcoming book, Guide to CFO Success: Leadership Strategies for Corporate Financial Professionals. I am now in the production process with my publisher, John Wiley & Sons, and I’m looking forward to your feedback when the book is released in March 2014. Hopefully I will get to meet you in person as I speak at conferences and events in 2014. If you’d like to have me discuss my book at your local CFO event, ask the organizers to reach out to me to see if I’m available.)

VIDEO: Webinar Presentation – CFO Succession: The Right Way to Grow your Company’s next CFO

On May 23, 2013 I presented this Webinar on Proformative.

To get more information on this presentation, please view this blog.

Links referred to in this presentation:

If you have any questions on CFO Succession, please complete the form below and I will be pleased to get back to you.

Webinar – May 23, 2013 | CFO Succession: The Right Way to Grow your Company’s next CFO

Join me on May 23, 2013 as I present a Webinar on the following topic:Webinar - CFO Succession

CFO Succession: The Right Way to Grow your Company’s next CFO

This session is graciously hosted by Proformative, and there is no charge for attending this seminar. To sign up, please click on this link.


Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) know that they will not stay in their current role with their current company forever. The CFO needs to ensure that his or her team has the right talent that can be called upon to replace them when they eventually leave the company (or the role of CFO). Strong CFOs also know that they are only as strong as the weakest leader on their team. This session will discuss the right way for the CFO to attract, retain and develop financial leadership talent for their team, while ensuring that they are setting the stage and preparing for their own eventual succession.

Learning Objectives

After attending this webinar you will be able to:

    • Understand why your success depends on having the best possible leadership talent in your finance team
    • Learn how to identify which areas to develop your finance leaders for future success
    • Become aware of the key components necessary to attract, retain and develop your company’s next CFO and other future finance leaders

CPE Credits are available for this session. For further information, please see details in the “CPE Info” tab on the sign up page.

Why do CFOs Leave?

What does it take for a CFO to move on in their career?

We asked this question to CFOs in January 2013 and had over 150 responses to this question.

Graph - Reasons for leaving

The responses shown in the graph give a good indication why CFOs leave.

What I found more interesting (and personal) was the detailed reasons given below.

    • Board decided they wanted a different profile CFO
    • Corporate consolidation/restructuring
    • Board forced new CFO, CEO resisted then succumbed, I was hired as new CFO, CEO made life tough for me, I offered resignation after 2 years.
    • No more personal growth potential
    • I resigned due to a desire to relocate to another state
    • I was with my former employer for twelve years as their CFO.  Owner’s son got married and needed a job.  The owner decided to give my job to his son.
    • Company changed direction in terms of exit strategy.
    • unsustainable business model
    • It was apparent that the foreign founders wanted to re-domicile the company to their country of residence, so I began evaluating other opportunities.
    • Disagreement over revenue recognition policy
    • moved management positions to a different city
    • After selling controlling interest to PE I did not adapt fast enough to PE requirements vs. family owned prior to sale.
    • Left to start a consulting practice.
    • Retired
    • Sold the Company
    • No opportunity for equity
    • Company moved HO to another country.
    • Internal restructuring, consolidation of back office functions
    • Lead the restructuring process with CEO, which transformed the company to service a specific market, eliminated all C-Level positions.
    • Get bored quickly
    • Was resigning regardless of another opportunity.
    • It’s complicated – but in essence, I was no longer effective as CFO there.
    • I did the restructuring and elected to leave due to lack of opportunity and company prospects.
    • Poor fit
    • Disagreement with CEOs strategy or lack of it…
    • New CEO (2 responses)
    • The wife of the president was involved in the company. she often disagreed with the president’s decision
    • Controlling interest taken by Venture Capital Firm who in turn brought in new BOD and New Executive Team
    • One of the partners was creating major issues as he wanted to significantly modify the business model. His disagreements were also with our lender, which was creating cash flow issues.
    • Various reasons not listed above. No longer felt like it was a fit for me professionally.
    • Under resourced
    • Interim CFO role

Interesting food for thought, isn’t it?

What do you think about the results of this survey?

Do CFOs need to master IT to succeed?

As the person responsible for all things financial in an enterprise (of any size), the Chief Financial Officer needs to combine people, process and technology to drive results across the enterprise.

Solutions for organizations and finance departments  that were best in class only a few years ago may well now be obsolete, and incapable of providing  companies the functionality they need  to succeed in today’s dynamic business world.

Does a CFO need to master Information Technology to succeed?

I asked this question to John Kogan, CEO at Proformative, an online community by and for Corporate Finance, Accounting and Treasury Professionals. Here is his response:

Master IT? No. Truly understand how IT can be used within their organizations and across the enterprise? Yes! CFOs can’t outsource their understanding of technology and its use within the enterprise. They need to embrace it in order to understand how it is being used and how it might be used to better advantage. Armed with such knowledge they can create a plan, with help from others in their organization as well as IT, and work to make whatever they do have better and more effective. This is a never-ending process.

I also asked John the following question:

Are CFOs afraid of IT?

I’m sure they are out there, but rare. I think it’s more common for some CFOs to be so busy doing all of the other things they are responsible for that IT may fall between the cracks or they outsource it to someone else internally. They may not realize they are doing this or they may not believe IT merits more of their time. Obviously they have a lot to do and there is never enough time to do it. However, this takes them out of a very important loop at their companies – the loop that provides data upon which their company makes decisions, for better and worse.

What can a CFO do to better understand IT?

Knowledge is power. CFOs may not need to be an IT master, but they certainly need to understand where IT is going, how it affects their business and how it impacts their finance team. Staying up to date and current in the fast paced changing world of IT can be difficult. It requires reading, speaking with peers, listening to vendors and industry experts.

How does a CFO find the time to stay on top of all things IT?

A CFO makes the time. Like most successful CFOs, they are efficient and effective in how they get the best value from their available time. Finding an excellent conference that can allow you to learn from experts and speak with your peers (with an additional benefit of finding time to network) can be a very effective solution.

So where does a CFO find an all-encompassing conference like this?

One conference that can meet a CFOs need for all things IT is PROFORMATECH 2013 on March 20, 2013 in San Francisco. This conference is geared for Senior Finance Professionals like yourself who need to stay on top all things IT.

Even if you’re not on the West Coast, I recommend you make the time to attend this conference. It will certainly be worth the cost, because the conference is FREE (which is the right price for most CFOs).

Don’t delay. Register today!


Note: I am an Advisor with Proformative and a Topic Expert. There is no compensation for these roles, unless you consider that I usually win the $25 Amazon Gift certificate each month for most popular blog on the site. :-)

CFOs: Do you want to become a Controller? This CFO did just that.

Non-CFOs might think that CFOs are people that look backwards, not forwards. I speak with Chief Financial Officers every day, and I can tell you that they look are interested in moving forward with their careers. They want to improve, grow and succeed. They want their next career opportunity to be bigger, better and have more responsibility. Many CFOs want to be able to grow into the CEO role, and as I report each Monday morning in my CFO Moves blog, a number of CFOs do just that.

Cindy Kraft wrote a blog just yesterday called CFOs Really Can Move On and Up! which deals with how a CFO can position themselves for the CEO role. 

So this CFO Move last week really caught my attention. 

Courtesy of Xerox Corporation

Courtesy of Xerox Corporation

Luca Maestri, CFO of Xerox, let his company know that he would be taking a position with a new company. This is not an uncommon occurrence. 

He also informed his employer that he will be taking on the role of Controller at his new employer. This does not happen often. 

Now you need to keep in mind that the new employer is Apple. But it is not like he was working for a small company either as CFO. He was working for Xerox! 

So why would a CFO at one company become a Controller at another company? 

I have not had the opportunity to speak with Mr. Maestri about his decision. I’m sure he had good reasons. If Mr. Maestri was consulting with me about the move I would most probably tell him that I think it’s a great move. 

However, most CFOs are so focused on moving forward in their career and getting promoted that they often lose sight that the best opportunities for them may require ‘stepping down’ a little. 

Luca Maestri did just that.

As CFO, what can you learn from Luca Maestri?

Take time to think

We are all busy people. Running. Doing. Meeting. Analyzing. Reviewing. Managing.Are you stuck?

It’s nice to accomplish and get things done. But as many people have learned driving in winter conditions these past few weeks, spinning your wheels can only get you into a deeper rut.

If you don’t take the time to think and plan, your life and career will get away from you.

Thinking time is critical to plan your successes. Having a coach can certainly help you, but you can be your own coach too. You just need to take the time to think and plan.

I get my best thinking done driving alone in my car.

When do you get your thinking done?

Is it time to schedule some thinking time?

What do you need to think through?

Would a coach help?