How should my finance team be performing?

Imagine your Finance team making history rather than just reporting on it.  Imagine your month-end reporting being completed within 3 working days or less, your annual planning process being replaced by quarterly rolling planning, a year-end when you have the end of audit party within 3 weeks of your year-end, a happy and well function team. This website will offer you methodologies to fix the common problems in the finance team that will have a profound impact on your organisation and on your career.

We can make this a reality. I’m David Parmenter.  I am the author of  The Financial Controllers and CFO’s Toolkit 3 rd Edition.  It is a follow-on from Winning CFOs and Pareto’s 80/20 for Corporate Accountants.

Click here to read more about the book This was the second book, now superseded by The Financial Controllers and CFO’s Toolkit 3 rd Edition This was the first book, now superseded by The Financial Controllers and CFO’s Toolkit 3 rd Edition

I teach how to develop winning KPIs, replace the annual planning process with quarterly rolling planning, speed up accounting processes and winning leadership. I’ve delivered workshops and key note addresses in 32 countries. Companies where I have delivered in-house workshops include European Space Agency, Australian Post, Lloyds of London, Open University, and the Singapore government (Peoples Association) and more.

Look inside the breakthrough finance team better practices book

A look inside the book – a 25 page extract

Download the chapter 14 on “Attracting and recruiting talent”

Download the chapter 3 on “Rapid month-end reporting: by day three or less”

Download the chapter 16 on Implementing quarterly rolling forecasting and planning 

Testimonials on The Financial Controllers and CFO’s Toolkit 3rd edition

Top twenty mistakes a finance team make too often

  1. Allowing month-end reporting to go past three working days
  2. Taking months doing an annual plan – when it can be done in 10 working days
  3. Letting Excel dominate the finance system
  4. Not investing enough in accounts payable.
  5. Not adopting the purchasing card (a free, accounts payable system)
  6. Investing in a complex G/L and then upgrading it too frequently
  7. Having over 80 account codes for the P/L
  8. Budgeting at account code level
  9. Breaking down the annual plan into twelve before the year starts
  10. Giving budget holders an annual funding entitlement
  11. Only forecasting to year-end
  12. Not producing daily/ weekly decision based reports
  13. Producing numbing monthly financial reports
  14. Reporting on the wrong performance measures which can damage performance
  15. Selling change by logic instead of the emotional drivers of the buyer
  16. Using Julius Caesar’s calendar instead of 4,4,5-week months
  17. Spending months on the annual accounts
  18. Working hard but not smart
  19. Holding onto time wasting habits
  20. Not investing enough time to attract and recruit talented staff

The fixes are covered in The Financial Controllers and CFO’s Toolkit 3 rd Edition

Accessing David Parmenter’s intellectual property

David Parmenter’s Toolkits with E-Templates

If you want to access the latest thoughts of David Parmenter, buy his toolkits which are constantly updated and are a comprehensive (100 page) guide to get you to make change in the areas covered.  Each toolkit comes with accompanying electronic templates to get your implementation started.  On time of acquisition David reviews and updates the tookit as appropriate. These toolkits are printed, signed and posted to the purchaser. The toolkits include:

 

David Parmenter’s Working Guides

For areas which are not covered by a toolkit David Parmenter has written a shorter (20- 30 pages) working guide to help you make progress.  They can be read and absorbed in an hour. All you need to do is puchase them via the paypal link and I will send you the working guides are emailed with accompanying useful E-templates with 48 hours. To buy multiple guides access the special deal.

David Parmenter’s Pay-To-View Webinars

You can purchase a wide variety of David’s webinars recorded by leading accounting professional bodies.  Each webinar is 90 minutes long and includes electronic templates.  You purchase directly from the relevant professional body and follow instructions, at the end of the webinar, to download the templates from my website using the disclosed password.

E-Templates From David Parmenter’s Financial Controllers and CFO’s Toolkit

You can purchase all the electronic versions of the book templates. Once the paypal notification has been received the templates are emailed with 48 hours..

David Parmenter’s Performance Measures Database (known as a KPI database)

The database, developed over the last twenty years, and regularly updated, is sent in both  Access and Excel.

Better practice studies and what they can do for your Accounting Function

Better practice studies and bench marking studies are two ways for organisations to measure their effectiveness and the level of service they are providing to internal and external clients.

Better practice studies are often confused with bench marking studies, an unfortunate mistake that leads many organisations that could gain substantial benefits from participating to overlook them.

In brief, bench marking studies focus on quantitative measures and thus organisations can assess where they are in the ranking, i.e. what percentile they are at. Such studies require good information systems and a substantial commitment in time, in liaison with fellow participants, fine tuning definitions and collecting comparable data. For example, even the definition of an employee needs to be agreed upon.

Where are you in these ratings on month-end close?

Top Performers
1.     Have adopted a virtual close where we can get up-to-date net result numbers at any point in time and thus month-end numbers are available immediately with only commentary to follow on day one Top 1%
2.     We have a printed set of rules for preparing accounts and materiality is clearly stated and set for the entire organization Top 25%
3.     All inter-company transactions are first posted to an inter-company software and both subsidiaries are updated automatically Top 1%
4.   Accounts payable, accounts receivable and inventory are all closed off before month-end Top 50%
5.  Have strict control on all adjustments allowing them to off-set each other before making a decision to adjust month end numbers Top 25%
6.  Monthly financial report is less than five pages Top 25%
7.  Close-off on the same day each month e.g., the nearest Friday to the calendar month end, could be the 29th or the 2nd Top 1%
8.   All planning, forecasting and reporting performed in a robust application Top 1%
Bottom performers
1.     Month-end close takes over 8 working days Bottom 25%
2.     No formal agreed rules on materiality so adjustments levels vary amongst the individual accountants Bottom 25%
3.     Myriad of inter-company adjustments each month which can take a day or two to resolve Lower 50%
4.     Accounts payable, accounts receivable and inventory are all closed off after month-end Lower 50%
5.     All adjustments are posted until the general ledger is closed off Lower 50%
6.     The monthly financial reports is over 15 pages Bottom 25%
7.     Close off each month-end at calendar month-end Lower 50%
8.     Excel is still our main tool and there is a reluctance to change Lower 50%

If your responses are more aligned to the poor performers you should definitely participate in the bench marking study.

“Benchmarking of finance teams” 

Outline of history

David Parmenter was involved in benchmarking from 1993-2005.  He developed a specialized benchmarking service for corporate finance teams isolating the outlier best practices and then interviewing them to write up their case study.  From this knowledge base, David began his writing and speaking career.  It is thus appropriate for David to return, once again, to his roots.

Benchmarking has common issues that need to be addressed:

  1. Often the need for information is immediate e.g. “How fast or slow are we in ________compared to our peers in our sector?” as they are writing a report to their chief executive. They do not want to wait three months for the bench marking study results.
  2. The initial enthusiasm wanes by the time they have subscribed and a lengthy electronic questionnaire awaits their completion meaning that it is often difficult to get returns in.
  3. Often a CFO /Financial Controller may only be interested in performance of two or three areas at any point in time and therefore parts of the study they pay for go unused.

The new waymark solutions bench marking service

We are setting up a bench marking service and wish to partner with leading accounting bodies around the world who want to offer this service to their members.  The bench marking service will have the following features:

  1. Participants have access to 8-10 modules, buying the ones that interest them. Each module has between eight to ten multi choice questions that can be completed in less than 5 minutes.  After completion of the relevant questionnaire, they get an instant response regarding what quartile they are in, access to the intellectual property David has gathered in writing his best practice books and hall of fame case studies.
  2. 3 to 4 times a year graphics of international sector comparisons will be made available to participants
  3. Participants who are in the best practice quartile receive a pre-prepared case study populated with information already known and are targeting the completion of hall of fame entries in less than a couple of minutes.
  4. The modules to choose from

    Modules on offer: Purchasing module options
    Month-end reporting

    Buy Eight Finance Team Benchmarking Modules US$500

    Buy Six Finance Team Benchmarking Modules US$400

    Buy Four Finance Team Benchmarking Modules 3 US$300

    Buy Two Finance Team Benchmarking Modules US$200

    To buy visit here.

    Rapid year-end reporting
    Accounts payable
    Finance team reporting (Daily, Weekly and Monthly)
    Board reporting
    Annual planning
    Forecasting
    FMIS and associated technologies
    Accounts receivable
    Performance measurement and monitoring

How to switch successfully from a Big 4 audit firm into corporate finance

Many accountants who qualified doing audits are inadequately prepared for the transition into corporate accounting.  I had spent five years with Arthur Andersen &co and one year with Price Waterhouse before I moved to my first corporate accounting job.   While seeing many different organisations was a great start I had never worked on a month-end, completed an annual plan, managed a team of accounting staff or presented to the Board.   I thus did not know how a good finance team should perform or how to get my team to that place. To avoid making the mistakes I made during the transition read on.

Whilst working in audit provides a marvellous overview of industry, government and not for profit agencies it does not prepare us for running a finance team. In the big 4 your management skills are seldom tested,  staff underneath you are compliant  as they know they will only have to  put up with you on this audit, and in any case, they can easily avoid you when at the  client.  In order to make a successful switch it is important to work in a finance team which is well run and uses a number of better practices.  If you are planning your first, or next 100 days with a finance team here is what I would do:

  1. Fully understand my knowledge gap, remembering that audit does not show us how to manage a G/L, close a month-end or orchestrate an efficient annual planning process.
  2. Plan your approach to speeding up your month-end reporting.  Then cut down your reporting pack replacing it with concise A3 page dashboards.  With the time saving from these changes, then streamline your accounts payable processes with a view to reducing transactions.  The benefit you will get from these three initiatives will pave the way to tackling annual planning and performance measures. You can achieve these three changes by purchasing and reading my toolkits and the articles on this web page.
  3. Access some of my pay-to-view recorded webinars with ACCA, CAANZ, & ICAEW.  Also access my Serving leader toolkit that will lift your leadership.
  4. Consider  getting me to deliver an in -house webcast, or book a one-to-one gotomeeting with David Parmenter.
  5. Access my Four books.

Common problems in the finance team

Are your month-ends one drama after another Read more. Is your organisation succeeding in spite of the annual planning process rather than because of it? Read more Is the finance team a collection of individuals rather than a cohesive team? Read more Is the year-end a process that carries on months into the new year? Read more Does the finance team have a history of late and/ or failed projects? Read more Do you have too many KPIs, many of which are leading to dysfunctional behavior? Read more. Are the accountants spending too much time reporting history rather than making it? Read more.

David Parmenter Winning CFOs Series

Some of the Published Articles & Chapter Extracts

Mastering the traits of a winning CFO

Never before has the role of the CFO been more complex, multi-faceted and rewarding. The CFO is now juggling more balls in the air than ever before, in front of an audience that is more demanding and knowledgeable.

What makes the difference from average to good and from good to great performance?

In this article I will attempt to shed some light on why you may not be scoring the goals you should, save training drills and suggestions. Please note that I am not writing this from personal success. I have never been a CFO, nor was I a good corporate accountant. I am basing this article on countless years of benchmarking CFO’s from all sectors and whose success varied from poor to great.

The CFO is now juggling more balls in the air than ever before, in front of an audience that is more demanding and knowledgeable. What makes the difference from average to good and from good to great CFO performance? I believe I have the answer. The model I have developed is based on countless years of bench marking CFO’s from all sectors and whose success varied from poor to great.

Once the foundation stones in place, you can now use them as a platform from which to juggle the areas of focus, see Exhibit 1, that make up being a winning CFO. Many of the focus areas have a soft skills component, an area which is often not on the CFOs radar screen. These have been marked with an ‘S’.

Exhibit 1 A winning CFO model

To continue reading please view Mastering the traits of a winning CFO here.

I have developed much material to help revolutionize the CFO performance: