Nine Reports Every CFO Should Be Presenting in Leading Finance Functions

In our recent report, “How Savvy CFOs are making better management decisions”, we highlighted the importance of performance management reporting in leading finance functions and illustrated the well-documented challenges around reporting as businesses mature.

This article continues the theme of reporting excellence and we highlight nine reports every CFO in a leading finance function should be presenting. Of course, specific metrics will apply from sector to sector, but the themes remain.

  1. Cash and cashflow forecast
  2. OKR reporting (objectives & key results)
  3. Risks reporting
  4. Sales forecast or pipeline
  5. Consolidated & segmented P&L, balance sheet and historic cash flow
  6. Product/sales mix & concentration
  7. Segmented gross margin/contribution
  8. Customer behaviour
  9. Internal productivity

1. Cash and cashflow forecast

AccountsIQ software used for cashflow forecasting

Cashflow forecasting report example

Unless you’re sitting on large cash reserves that just keep growing, this should be right at the top of your list! Reporting on, and discussing, cashflow; current cash position and future expected net cashflows, along with timing, is paramount. This should include a medium-term view and a short-term, say 60 or 90-day, view of cash.

Too few SMEs are doing this and even fewer are doing this properly. A medium-term forecast should absolutely be integrated with cashflow, P&L and balance sheet forecasts. The shorter 60 or 90-day forecast can be a one-sided cash-only view, but obviously needs to be reconciled to the opening balance sheet position.

2. OKR (objectives & key results) reporting

Some OKR (objectives & key results) reporting may be embedded in other reports but in our experience, this is very poorly reported. It doesn’t need to be in an OKR format but reporting on specific business objectives progress is paramount. Often specific project initiatives are set up to meet shorter term objectives and so reporting on these separately is often the best way to focus on them.

Less than 50% of FTSE100 companies align their reporting with their objectives; this number is much lower in SMEs and we can’t reiterate enough how important this is to support your strategy.

3. Risk reporting

Traditionally, this may not be an area that finance has owned. However, with the savvy CFO acting as chief steward and moving into the role of Chief Performance Officer, then ownership of risks around performance improvement should certainly be part of that remit. In most SMEs, financial risks are present and so it’s a natural extension for the modern CFO to report on these and wider risks.

A register containing business risks, likelihood rating, impact to the business rating, along with proposed mitigating response to the risk should be reported. Early awareness of risks is often enough to set the right plan in motion to weather the storm.

4. Sales forecast or customer pipeline

Customer pipeline reporting with AccountsIQ software

Customer pipeline reporting example

This reporting focuses on where future sales are coming from – in your business that could be your sales forecast or your customer pipeline.

While financial numbers on here are relevant and feed into your overall cashflow forecast, the important aspect of this is the number of customers, who they are (in a B2B world), probability of conversion, when they will materialise and the value.

5. Consolidated & segmented P&L, balance sheet and historic cash flow

The bread and butter of every CFO reporting period, de facto. Past performance, particularly segmented, is very useful to understand high performing business units, products, channels, sales persons etc. Understanding past performance while still looking forward can absolutely support management in making better, more informed decisions. However, the key to learning from the past is through segmentation.

We’ve seen limitations at both ends of the spectrum – dis-aggregated and aggregated information. It’s important to have both – a consolidated view top-down and the ability to drill into sufficient segmented detail to get a deeper understanding of what is working and what is not. Like all reporting, it’s all about applying smart changes to the business.

6. Product/sales mix & concentration

This is really a sub section of the consolidated and segmented P&L but going even deeper into product/sales mix & concentration will give you a lot more insight into what matters – how to grow your top line and what is working well with customers.

7. Segmented gross margin/contribution

segmented gross margin report on AccountsIQ software

Segmented gross margin report example

This is a really important one when benchmarking different parts of the business – whether that is business units, locations, channels, sales team etc.

Understanding gross margin at a segmented level helps you first identify which parts of the business are providing greater contribution and when using it to benchmark, apply lessons from top performing parts to lower performing parts of the business, and thus raising the overall average across the business.

8. Customer behaviour

Customer-centric reporting is key to focusing on performance. In a B2B business that’s specific on customers and debt. In a B2C business that could be more focused on repeat orders or customer acquisition channels.

In both, it could be customer acquisition cost, churn, new customers, customer satisfaction or NPS score. The point is, your performance reporting should include some form of customer reporting to better understand your customer behaviour.

We once worked with a FTSE250 company that couldn’t tell the global spend by customer. Don’t fall into this trap!

9. Internal productivity

internal productivity report using Accounts software

Internal productivity report example

There are many ways to measure productivity and they will differ by type of business and sector. Nonetheless, it’s something that should be reported on and monitored. Again, even within the business, benchmarking is a powerful way to learn more about successful and efficient processes, people and departments. Understanding this leads to better decisions and overall business improvements.

Conclusion

While the above covers the reporting themes we would expect to see in a leading finance function, it is also worth highlighting a few areas that separate the typical finance function from a leading one:

  • ability to report on more than just financial numbers;
  • mashing financial & non-financial metrics together to enrich the information;
  • moving up the reporting maturity curve (see our paper How savvy CFOs are making better management decisions); and
  • proportionately spending more time on understanding and decision-making rather than preparing the reports.

The purpose of all of the above is for the management team, C-suite or even the Board to make better, more informed strategic decisions.

Interestingly, there is a good mix of future looking and historic looking reporting, along with a mix of financial and non-financial reporting.

Get in Touch

We would be interested in hearing your thoughts around the above and how many future-looking and/or non-financial reports you’re taking in to your management or Board meetings to discuss.

You can tweet Alastair Barlow  to discuss any of the above or AccountsIQ or alternatively, Book a Demo to see the powerful reporting capabilities of AccountsIQ

How Savvy CFOs Make Better Decisions

AccountsIQ Savvy CFO ReportThe Savvy CFO paper was developed in conjunction with our partner flinder, a niche accounting and advisory firm, who we work with when customers need a helping hand such as Green Rock, to design their reporting processes and management reports.

About AccountsIQ

AccountsIQ is a cloud-based accounting solution that offers seamless reporting, integration and consolidation. Fully flexible, with the ability to meet the changing needs of a growing business, it offers bespoke solutions that are designed to meet your needs, both now and into the future.

AccountsIQ now supports over 25,000 users in over 40 countries. This year, AccountsIQ celebrates winning the UK Enterprise Accounting Software of the Year award, plus ranking 21 in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 high growth index and also gained a ranking in Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500 EMEA.

About flinder

flinder is a technology and implementation partner to AccountsIQ and is an international and multiple award-winning business disrupting the role of accountants servicing SMEs, particularly in the mission critical discipline of making rapid, well informed business decisions using financial & operational real-time management intelligence.

flinder specialises in the areas of data, technology, innovation and service quality. Combining their experience and aspirations they created flinder with a bold ambition: To invent a new type of niche accounting firm targeting complex, growth-aspiring SMEs.

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