David Worrell is a Partner and CFO at Fuse Financial Partners, a team of accomplished entrepreneurs working to help small businesses accelerate success. He is also the author of “The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Statements,” along with hundreds of articles about finance and business growth. We recently spoke with David about the changing face of finance and how forward-thinking CFOs should adapt.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Tell us about your background. What was your path to your current role, and what does that role entail?
I’ve always been an entrepreneur; creating and running small companies is just part of my DNA. But the more companies I build, the more I appreciate the role of accounting and finance. So my role in each business has become more about adding value through financial analysis and projections. As a business owner, I bring a very operational viewpoint to the role of CFO, both for my own company and as a consultant for others. I’m always looking for ways to get better data about business operations in order to apply it to improve a company. This is not about debits and credits for me, it’s about making smart business decisions based on concise data and clear projections.
How have your responsibilities as a CFO changed over the last 5-10 years?
The most significant change I’ve seen is around accounting automation. There are so many opportunities now to connect everything we do to the accounting system, to automate transaction entry, improve data collection, and provide much more robust and interactive reporting. It’s very exciting to see how AI and BI are overlapping in the accounting space, even at very small companies.
What role does technology play in the present and future of finance?
To stay relevant and efficient, finance departments have to be adopting technology to automate several functions, from vendor payment solutions to employee benefits reporting. In the arena of small businesses, this can be transformational. Smart business owners are taking a deep breath and letting go of the minutia as they see the technology improving. The real value-add is in the ultimate reporting: None of this is any good if it doesn’t empower better decision making.
How do you determine if and when technology is the solution to problems in the finance department?
You’ve only got three tools available to do your job: people, processes, and technology. In my mind, technology can replace people and prescribe better processes, so maybe technology is always the answer. Or at least a big part of it. For example, we had a client struggling with getting core work completed. A small ERP system was able to prescribe the right steps to every workflow, which increased the quantity and quality of their product output. They allowed the technology to lead their transformation, and it made all the difference.
Talk about the duty of CFOs to select and manage IT. How is this different than before?
I see the roles diverging. Of course, the CFO is still involved in technology decisions, but the IT world has grown so expansively that a CIO or CTO is now almost required for every business. In 1990, I was a CFO who also had to be a Network Engineer and the IT Support Desk. That has simply become too much work for one person to manage.
What resources do you believe CFOs and the teams they lead need to thrive moving forward?
I think that data visualization tools are the most needed resource for finance teams. We are all drowning in a sea of data, and until you can see what it all means, you’ll miss the best opportunities. Visualization is also the most effective way to communicate with all stakeholders. Reams of data, long P&Ls, and wordy analysis have been preventing the CFO from really reaching the right audiences. With better and better visualization, the right message will get through to the right stakeholders, and that will make all the difference.
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