075: Avoid These 3 CFO Call Mistakes

Mar 15, 2024

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075: Avoid These 3 CFO Call Mistakes

Mar 15, 2024

Today, I will show you three simple CFO call mistakes you should avoid to help ensure you deliver maximum value to your clients.

After all, having a value-dense CFO call is vital because that call is the bread and butter of the Fractional CFO.

The client may wonder what they're paying for if there is too much fluff or tactical dialogue.

On the other hand, if your calls are meaty and insightful, your clients will never think about leaving you.

Let's get into it.

Set the Agenda

The Fractional CFO should set the agenda for the call right out of the gate.

There are several reasons why this is important, but chief among them is the agenda gives you an easy point to return to (without looking like a jerk) if the conversation goes off track later.

Here's an example:

Let's say you are reviewing the balance sheet with your client and the topic of credit card payments comes up.

What started off well-intentioned enough quickly spirals down a rabbit hole with your client talking about Chase Ink Reward Points and some great hacks you can leverage to 5x those points with Marriott.

Seven minutes later, the client is enjoying the conversation—but this is NOT the kind of thing you should discuss on a CFO call.

You don't want to sound like a jerk and cut them off, but you know you have to get things back on track.

If you laid out the agenda at the top of the call, you can easily refer to it and remind them you still have several key items to discuss before the call ends.

Focus on the Future

I have found that the majority of a CFO call should focus on forecasts, projections, goals, and the actions required to make each of those a reality.

How much time? Well, that depends on the client and the situation. As a rule of thumb, I propose that at least 50%—75% of the call be forward-focused.

I've seen too many great CFO calls go south when the Fractional CFO spends too much time reviewing financial statements.

And let's be honest:

It's REALLY easy to get on a CFO call and spend 20, 30, or even 40 minutes discussing the P&L!

Here's how it usually unfolds:

You ask a question about COGS. The client responds, but they have a follow-up question. You have an insightful answer. Back and forth it goes. It's a great conversation. Then you look at the clock; the hour has passed, and that's all you've accomplished.

(Note: if you say that's never happened to you, then you're either lying to yourself or you've never actually been on a CFO call 🀣)

Even though the conversation was great, the client feels disappointed that you didn't talk about cash forecasts or what they need to do about their profit goals.


Will there be times when 75% of the call is about something huge that happened last month and its impact on the business?


But those should be the exception, not the norm.

Who Will Do What and When

The last thing you should do on every CFO call is recap the action items and reiterate their importance.

Intuitively, we know that we should review the action items. But it's deceptively easy to get caught up in the end-of-the-call rush and forget to do it or decide to skip it.

Then we turn around a month later, and no one has taken action.

πŸ‘‰ And without action, there is no impact.

It's been a best practice for me to bookmark the last 2-3 minutes of every CFO call to cover the list of action items, who owns each, and when they'll be done.

Ensure each person is clear on their deliverables and give space to ask/answer related questions.

As a bonus, I recommend documenting the action items, owners, and due dates within your CFO report and then in a recap email afterward.

The Fundamentals are Fundamental for a Reason
Don't sleep on these fundamental best practices.

They may seem basic, but I can tell you that they are easy to miss.

When you do, the client ultimately suffers.

Build these points into your CFO call agendas and checklists, and you won't have to worry about forgetting them again. πŸ˜€

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