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The Purpose-Driven CFO and Much More!

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Why Financial Modelling Skills Will Be A Big Career Door Opener For Emerging Accounting and Finance Talent

This article is written by financial modelling specialist, Lance Rubin. You can find more of Lance's work at https://www.modelcitizn.com/

Background

If you have recently been for a job interview or at least just taken a small peek through the door called opportunity then you may have noticed something emerging regarding a new key skill requirement, which you may or may not have.

Irrespective of your level, financial modelling skills have become one of the most highly sought after for finance professionals today.

Good news for candidates is there is short supply and huge demand. There was certainly no shortage of opportunities when I was looking for a job recently, but I decided to use this shortage to consult to many different companies rather than just one as their employee.

Bad news is if you are in a finance team and never built or know what a 3-way model is, then you have lots to learn and to catch up on. A 3-way model refers to the 3 financial statements namely an Income...

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Driver Based Planning and Forecasting in the Context of FP&A

This article is written by financial modelling specialist, Lance Rubin. You can find more of Lance's work at https://www.modelcitizn.com/

Background

When I first came across the term driver based planning and forecasting I was confused.

As an ex-investment banker having joined a Finance team the concept of drivers when talking about a forecast or plan was simply assumptions.

Why was it not called just that? Assumptions! Investment bankers have been building models with assumptions ever since the first model was built and a corporate transaction was negotiated.

So what’s all the excitement about driver based planning. It’s simply a financial model with assumptions to drive decisions..no?

Driver Based vs Assumption Based

Why give assumptions a different name i.e. a driver, why not just call it assumption based planning?

Ultimately a plan or a forecast is a collection of assumptions both in the numbers that are input into the model but also assumptions around...

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Financial Modelling: Diamonds in the Rough

financial modelling fp&a Sep 20, 2018

This article is written by financial modelling specialist, Lance Rubin. You can find more of Lance's work at https://www.modelcitizn.com/

Background

Why is it so hard to find Finance staff with good financial modeling skills?

Surely all accountants and professional finance people are good financial modelers?

When I was leading a large team within the Finance function of a major Australian bank it was difficult to find good modeling skills.

This isn't just a skills gap in banks but across all Finance teams in corporates and small to medium sized entities.

It's nobody’s fault, we were never trained and everyone just got tips off the resident "Excel expert" in the team. There is always one...Or we used Google and learnt from Chandoo and YouTube videos to solve problems in spreadsheets….just like you solve anything really…YouTube saviour.

When joining a company it was expected that everyone knew how to use Excel with a high degree of competency in Financial...

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The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 10: Finding purpose in the boring bits of Finance

By Andy Burrows

[First published 26th December 2017]

[This article is also on LinkedIn - why not "Follow+" Andy and give the article a "like"?]

I haven’t written in this series for a while. So, for new readers, I’ll just briefly reiterate the premise of The Purpose-Driven CFO.

 What I set out to do was to investigate what difference it makes going back to first principles with the things we do in Finance, and asking “why?” I know from experience that understanding why we do things can increase our motivation in doing them. Once you can see the end goal, and see the benefits of that goal, any tedious, mundane, difficult or complex steps towards it become less burdensome. And often asking “why” reveals implications that will change the way we do things. That has certainly been the case with all the other areas I’ve looked at from this angle. 

You can find links to the previous articles at the end.

What I’m...

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The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 9: Developing Finance Business Partnering

 By Andy Burrows

[First published 20th July 2017]

[This article is also on LinkedIn - why not "Follow+" Andy and give the article a "like"?]

I don’t take it for granted that anyone reading this will have read the other articles in this series. Perhaps you have a particular interest in Finance Business Partnering. So, for new readers, I’ll just briefly reiterate the premise of The Purpose-Driven CFO.

That is, what I set out to do was to investigate what difference it makes going back to first principles with the things we do in Finance, and asking “why?” I know from experience that understanding why we do things can increase our motivation in doing them. Once you can see the end goal, and see the benefits of that goal, any tedious, mundane, difficult or complex steps towards it become less burdensome. And often asking “why” reveals implications that will change the way we do things. That has certainly been the case with all the...

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The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 8: What is a Purpose-Driven Finance Function?

By Andy Burrows

[First published 27th June 2017]

[This article is also on LinkedIn - why not "Follow+" Andy and give the article a "like"?]

To date in this series, I’ve been picking activities that we do in the Finance function, and looking into why we do them. That’s the essence of my purpose-driven approach. We’ve worked through some big ones, like budgetingstrategyreportingprojects and internal control (and others - the links to all previous parts in the series can be found at the end of the article).

What I’d like to do at this point in the series is to step back and take a look at the big picture. What does the Finance function exist for, if we were to sum it up? If we want to be “purpose-driven” in Finance, what does that mean? What is a purpose-driven Finance function?

Great Expectations

As a business grows, it employs Finance people in a variety of different capacities. Someone to do...

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The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 7: The Great Alternative to Analysis Paralysis

By Andy Burrows

[First published 21st April 2017]

[This article is also on LinkedIn - why not "Follow+" Andy and give the article a "like"?]

If you’ve seen the earlier articles in this series, you’ll know that I’ve been using what I’m calling a “purpose-driven” perspective to draw out useful insights into the work of the Finance function. My thesis is that being explicit about the reasons why we do things, not only boosts motivation and engagement within the team, but actually affects the way we do them. The introductory article that explains the thinking behind the approach. 

So far, I’ve covered budgeting, strategy, reporting, projects and internal control.

This time round I want to take a look at why we do financial analysis.

What Do Analysts Do?

What is ‘financial analysis’? As I thought about that question as a starting point, it occurred to me that it’s difficult to define financial analysis in...

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The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 6: Internal Control is for Finance Business Partners Too

By Andy Burrows

[First published 15th April 2017]

[This article is also on LinkedIn - why not "Follow+" Andy and give the article a "like"?]

Internal control is often seen as a boring subject. It conjures up visions of bureaucracy, paperwork, inspection teams with checklists, things which slow the business down. But, as I have said elsewhere, “Saying that internal control is boring in business is like a train driver saying that tracks and signals are boring.”

Over the course of this series, I’ve been looking at activities within the remit of the CFO from what I’m calling a “purpose-driven” perspective. I’m trying to investigate whether examining, and being explicit about, the reasons why we do things, actually changes or influences the way we do them. If you haven't seen it already, please take a look at the introductory article that explains the thinking behind the approach: The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 1: Why Be...

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The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 5: Don’t Waste Money Doing Projects

By Andy Burrow

[First published 21st March 2017]

[This article is also on LinkedIn - why not "Follow+" Andy and give the article a "like"?]

How can a purpose-driven approach help Finance managers and CFOs to prevent their businesses from wasting money on projects?

Over the course of this series, I’ve been looking at business Finance activities from what I’ve called a “purpose-driven” perspective. I have set out to investigate whether examining, and being explicit about, the reasons why we do things, actually changes or influences the way we do them. If you haven't seen it already, take a look at the introductory article that explains the thinking behind the approach: The Purpose-Driven CFO Part 1: Introduction. That, fittingly, tells you why I’m asking the ‘why’ questions!

I’ll give you the links to the other articles in the series at the end.

What is a Project For?

A project is, “an individual or collaborative...

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There's No Such Thing as an IT Project!

By Andy Burrows

[First published 11th March 2017]

“There’s no such thing as an IT project. All projects in business are business projects.” That was a tweet I put out a while back. And it drew a response from a young programmer.

“By the same logic, there’s no such thing as a construction project either. Erecting a new office building is pure business,” he tweeted back. And the exchange continued.

So, I thought it might be good to explain what I mean when I say that there’s no such thing as an IT project.

Why Pick on IT?

Firstly, why pick on IT?

Well, in business circles over the last 50 years it has become common to think of IT and software development when talking about projects. If you say the word ‘project’ in a business setting, people will think you are talking about IT. The reasons for that are probably related to the fact that methodologies developed for running projects, such as PRINCE2, initially applied to projects...

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