Head First: Diving in to the agency world as a CFO


4A's

My 27 year career in the finance and accounting field has largely been focused in publishing, with the last two years in commercial printing. With that being said, I recently started a new chapter in my career, adding agency work to the mix.

With a little less than two months under my belt as CFO, I’ve had to hit the ground running as we were beginning our year-end audit review, closing the books for the first month of the fiscal year, and revising monthly projections for the remainder of our fiscal year.  Amidst all of the hubbub, I was fortunate enough to spend two days with five CFOs from similar sized agencies across the country at the 4A’s Orange Forum CFO Meeting in Kansas City.  Although the timing was a little early to be able to contribute much to the discussions, it was a great learning experience for me in the very early stages of my new agency career.

The experience of the other CFOs that attended the forum ranged from 12 to 25 plus years. This was a wealth of knowledge to tap into for the new guy.  The discussions included talks of recent financial performance, human resource issues, financial metrics, pricing, challenges, and a number of opportunities.

Key Takeaways

Without divulging any confidential information, I had a great number of takeaways, but these were my top three:

  1. Most agreed that social media and digital revenue were the areas with the most revenue potential. However, they also felt this channel was the greatest challenge to sell their clients. This area also had the least staff dedicated to it at most agencies.
  1. Certain financial benchmarks and key performance indicators (KPIs) were discussed. This information was very helpful since this has been one of my focuses since starting at Strategic America.  In my past experience, measuring the right historical KPIs provides the best means to preparing a more accurate forecast and understanding what the future may hold.
  1. My third takeaway was that this is a wonderful group of people. They welcomed me with open arms and were willing to share their wealth of knowledge with someone outside their circle. I see this group as a great resource to help me gain an even deeper understanding of agencies, as well as a group of peers to discuss the everyday challenges and opportunities we are encountering in our individual businesses.

In continuing my fast paced education of the agency world, it’s now off to a conference for our company’s accounting software.


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