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How CFOs can shine when presenting financials

Source: FM-Magazine. Author: By Russ Banham.

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Like an actor on stage, CFOs have a role to play during investor presentations — and a responsibility to prepare.

Like opening night in the theatre, the hours before the quarterly earnings results conference call for CFOs are fraught with jitters and last-minute adjustments — even when the financial results are positive. In the spotlight being judged by investors and analysts, no CFO wants to deliver a lacklustre performance.

Even seasoned CFOs who have been through dozens of earnings calls will attest that their heart still races just before showtime. But once the conference commences, their meticulous preparations steady them. In good quarters or bad ones, they’re ready to relay the results and elucidate the reasons and ramifications.

New CFOs and other financial professionals charged with making high-stakes presentations can learn from the steps taken to prepare for an earnings call. FM interviewed five CFOs to determine their best practices. All follow a similar process — collecting information from across the enterprise to illuminate the factors behind the figures, writing the conference call script with the investor relations team, rehearsing the script, and participating in mock question-and-answer sessions to brace for forceful interrogation by investors and analysts in the real thing. While private company finance leaders do not typically have public earnings calls, many of these skills can also be valuable in meetings with their bankers, investors, or other critical stakeholders.

Our panel of finance leaders believe that quarterly results and their impact on long-term strategy should be absolutely transparent. “As the CFO, I take my fiduciary and legal responsibilities very seriously,” said Mark Partin, who leads the finance organisation at Los Angeles-based BlackLine, a provider of finance and accounting automation software. “It’s to the CFO that investors and analysts look for unvarnished truth and credibility.”

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