Tom Hood on Leadership and Adapting to an Extended Role
To comment on this episode or suggest an idea for another episode, contact Neil Amato, a JofA editor-in-chief at [email protected].
Neil Amato: There is hope on the horizon related to overtaking the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still a lot of economic damage to assess, adjust and plan. CFOs are often relied on to overcome this uncertainty, and one CPA who is in touch with the CFO community, to say the least, is Tom Hood, who is a speaker at the upcoming CFO conference. financial directors of AICPA & CIMA. Tom is the Executive Vice President for Business Growth and Engagement at the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants.
Tom, welcome back to the podcast, your first since becoming my colleague, and tell listeners what the last 16 months have taught financial professionals?
Tom Hood: Well, first off, Neil, it’s great to be here with you and call you colleague now. I’ve known you for a long time in my old role. So, it’s cool to be here with the Association. So what have they learned over the past 16 months? I want to start by saying “a lot”. And I know a lot of them are probably a little tired of the government’s constant relief programs, having to help their businesses rethink and re-project in all this uncertainty. Thus, they learned to work in a remote environment, which they had hardly ever done before. They have learned to move up the value chain. They have become valuable partners because the CEO relies so much on them to help them say, “What’s our forecast for cash flow?” “Are we going to make our bank loans?” “What will the company look like as we go through this pandemic?” And then, as it went on, it got even more crucial. So I think it would probably be # 2. I think # 3 would be that they’ve learned that technology done right can really speed up the strategy for them to get through this and really figure out how to make it work. their financial function in a super, super efficient way.
Amato: For CFOs, VPs of Finance, FP&A directors, you mentioned remote working, but what have they had to learn, maybe about themselves or about the business – what’s there- again on this front?
Hood: So a lot that’s true because they had to learn how to lead teams from a distance. It’s different in a remote environment, isn’t it, how you coordinate with them. I think the other one, which is related to technology and leadership, however, Neil, is the notion of what we call the quick shutdown. What we call closing the books – it used to take us three weeks to close the books when I was CFO in the ’80s. Obviously with the cloud and all the tech they’re all trying to make that number shorter. to almost zero. They try to shut them down every day. But the best of the best companies shut them down within three or four days. What does it mean? Well, if I can close my books in three days instead of three weeks, that means I have a lot more time as a CFO to use my trading skills to help analyze this data, to help advise l ‘business. So that’s probably the # 1 thing we’d say from that point of view.
And then I think in that same area is the notion of teaching your team to be able to do the same things you do. In other words, you have to rely more on your team as you shorten that fence and start to take on new roles and responsibilities. And then they did.
So what it turned out to be, Neil, is what we call an extension of roles. Suddenly CFOs found themselves searching for the CEO, helping them run the business and make it survive and thrive. And when their team wasn’t skilled enough or the technology wasn’t working well, that team had a hard time shutting down the accounting function, the stewardship function, which is just as important. This is something that they all identified with, and then led to, “Oh my God, I’ve done this digital transformation, but my team hasn’t kept up with the skills they need,” because it’s a different skill sets.
These are some of the things we will be talking about in the session titled Setting Up: Setting the Table for the Future. How to reconcile this idea?
Amato: I’m glad you used French because I couldn’t do it. Thank you for pronouncing the name of your session correctly. Again, the CFO conference will be held May 5-7 online. One of your other sessions is, I guess, about a skill that some CFOs had to develop to learn, and that is harnessing the power of social media. Has the gap between those who understood this power before the pandemic widened as a result of the pandemic?
Hood: So, funny, you use that term “widening the gap”. Because I think the gap is widening in a lot of areas compared to this whole pandemic, isn’t it? The acceleration of trends that led to all the business transformations and things like that, then this idea of social media.
If anything, social media has gotten even worse because of the political environment and the social environment we are in. So all of a sudden social media is a bad word. It wasn’t always a good word for CFOs; now it’s even worse. It’s like, “I don’t want to touch it.” So I think for your point the gap has widened and the popularity or controversy around it has increased. I will say if you are doing it for these purposes you should steer clear of it because I don’t do that sort of thing.
I use it to learn, connect and help me do my job better. It allows you to connect with so many people, which is social capital. It is one of the major capitals of which integrated reporting speaks [framework]. The social capital of our company and yourself.
Elon Musk kind of set the world on fire when he started tweeting about his company Tesla. In fact, I think the SEC sanctioned him because he was starting to look forward – so there is a line, especially for a CFO of a public company, to watch out for. For most of us, this is a powerful way to keep your learning going faster than the pace of change, to make relevant connections. In this environment, CFOs should connect with customers and their suppliers and find out what’s going on and social media. the media are one of the best ways to do this.
Amato: Something to add in closing?
Hood: Well, I think what we’re going to do in this social media session is – we’re not trying to push it on anybody. We will try to get wisdom from the crowd and try to talk about what they are using and the most popular tools.
For me, it’s LinkedIn and Twitter. I am more personal on Facebook. But I also put stuff there. And, more importantly, it’s that idea of using the tools and not letting the tools use you. This is what we are going to teach in our Social Finance Director session. I hope many of you will join us. Connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, it’s @tomhood. Again, we’ll show you what’s going on. And everything is virtual. But we will give you some practical advice. Once again, the most powerful learning tools there are are part of the social technology stack.
Amato: Tom, thank you very much. Those of you interested in the CFO conference will be able to see and hear Tom online next week.
Hood: I look forward. Thanks, Neil.
Amato: As mentioned, Tom Hood is making a presentation at next week’s CFO conference. He is also a presenter at ENGAGE 2021 in July. In the show’s notes for this episode, we’ll link to the pages of those respective conferences. You can also find and follow Tom on your own. He’s a regular on LinkedIn Live and talks to experts in accounting, business, technology, culture – you name him. Tom has been on Twitter since 2008; he is @TomHood on this platform, and it’s definitely worth following there.
In addition, the US Small Business Administration made announcements about two help programs and their application windows. First, the Closed Site Operator Grant Program portal accepts applications. This portal was closed earlier in April due to technical issues. The SBA has published an SVOG User Guide for those who are still learning the application process.
The SBA also announced the application timeline for its Restaurant Revitalization Fund. Registration begins Friday, April 30, and applications will be accepted as of Monday, May 3 at noon Eastern Time. The SBA has advised eligible entities to familiarize themselves with the application process in advance. This fund makes $ 28.6 billion available to eligible entities whose activities have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And, finally, the Accounting journal‘s Sally Schreiber has the details of the IRS issuing adjusted amounts for the Child Tax Credit, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Premiums Tax Credit for 2021.
You can find the links to this article and other SBA news mentioned in the show’s notes for this episode or by visiting journalofaccountancy.com. I am Neil Amato with the JofA. Thank you for listening to the Accounting journal Podcast.