Monday, November 03, 2008

US moving closer to international financial standards

"London Calling: First Accounting Roundtable Announced"
From Marie Leone, CFO Magazine

London Calling: First Accounting Roundtable Announced
IASB and FASB plan to hold the first of three meetings on financial reporting during the credit crisis on November 14.Marie Leone, USNovember 3, 2008
Accounting standards setters are working swiftly to address the global credit crisis by holding the first of three public roundtables in London on Friday, November 14. Less than two weeks ago, the International Accounting Standards Board and the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board jointly announced their plans to tackle key financial reporting issues arising from the current global credit crisis by organizing a trio of roundtables. They will be held in Europe, Asia, and North America.
Dates for the roundtable discussions in Norwalk, Connecticut, and Tokyo will be announced shortly. The conclaves are meant to be an opportunity for the two boards to hear input from a wide range of stakeholders, including users and preparers of financial statements, governments, regulators, and others. The roundtables are intended to help the boards identify any accounting issues that may require "the urgent and immediate attention of the boards to improve financial reporting and help enhance investor confidence in financial markets," according to the announcement released by the boards. As a result, the boards expect that roundtable participants will also identify issues that require longer-term consideration.
The boards have established an advisory group of senior leaders with broad international experience of financial markets to give them advice. The names of advisory board members have not been made public at press time. However, the insights gained at the roundtables will help the deliberations of this group.
The roundtable will be held at the Holborn Bars, 138-142 Holborn, in central London. The day will be split into two sessions, each lasting about 90 minutes. The morning session will begin at 10:30 a.m. London time, with the afternoon session beginning at 1:00 p.m. London time. Access to a webcast of the roundtables will also be available via the IASB website.
To register to attend the event (either as a participant or an observer), send an email to Victoria Blackburn at — and reference the financial crisis roundtable. The note should include your name, your organization, and whether you would like to take part in or observe the session. There is limited seating for the event.
Currently, both boards have tweaked the accounting rules related to fair-value measurement of financial instruments in the wake of the financial crisis. In one instance, IASB and FASB rewrote the rules to allow companies — particularly banks — to, in "rare" circumstances, move some assets from the "held for sale" classification — which requires fair-value measurement — to the "held to maturity" category, which permits companies to value the assets using historical cost accounting. The revision changes IASB's IAS 39 and FASB's FAS 115.
In another example of a recent rule change, IASB issued guidance that was consistent with FASB's standards, emphasizing that the objective of a fair-value measurement is the price at which an orderly transaction would take place between market participants on the measurement date, and not the price set during a forced liquidation or distressed sale. In a third potential change, IASB has released for public comment a reworked IFRS 7, the disclosure rule related to measuring financial instruments at fair value.
Comments on the draft are due December 15. The proposal streamlines disclosure requirements related to changes in valuation techniques for financial instruments. Rather than specifying what circumstances trigger new disclosures, the proposal simply requires that any change in valuation techniques be disclosed — plus the disclosure must include the reason for making the switch.
Last Wednesday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission held roundtables on questions surrounding fair-value accounting, and its applicability in illiquid markets. Then on Friday, the IASB released an 84-page document clarifying its existing guidance on fair-value accounting. It is similar to the FASB guidance released a few weeks prior. Neither IASB or FASB is moving away from their respective intent of requiring companies to use fair-value accounting to record the value of financial instruments.

© CFO Publishing Corporation 2008. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Writing Your Resume...

Yes, I know it sounds simplistic, but you'd be amazed what people send out!

Rule #1 Proof and spell check
Rule #2 Then have someone else proof and spell check
Rule #3 See Rules 1 and 2

Working with an Executive Recruiter

What You Don't Know about Headhunters: 10 Tips
From David McCann, CFO Magazine (

Understanding what makes recruiters tick is a vital but often overlooked component of the job hunt. In a shaky economy, it may be more crucial than ever.

At long last, you have made the tough decision: it's time for a new job. Or maybe someone else decided that for you. Whatever the motivation — new owner, new boss, company going bankrupt, getting fired after a restatement — the first thing to do is find some executive recruiters. Right?

At this point, you might as well. But it would have been smarter to forge relationships with recruiters when you weren't in such a hurry to move — that way, a recruiter could have contacted you as positions became available. Not only is that how they prefer to work, it's a far surer path to making a change than pushing the panic button and expecting something to happen overnight.

Understanding what makes recruiters tick is a vital but often overlooked component of the job hunt. Here's what you need to know:

• The right recruiter. There are two kinds of recruiting firms: contingency and retained. The contingency firms get paid only when a candidate they found gets hired by a client. "There are some good ones, but many of them just throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks," says Lorraine Hack, a partner in the financial-officer practice at Heidrick & Struggles, a retained firm. "If you don't want your résumé to be all over the place like the daily news, you might not want to go that route." Companies hire firms like Hack's on retainer to identify candidates, thoroughly learn about them, and present a short list to be interviewed. But the lower the salary allocated for a slot, the less likely retained recruiters are to take on that search, so recruiters paid via contingency fees are frequently used to fill lower-level positions.

• E-greetings. To make initial contact with a recruiter, send an E-mail. "Some candidates think paper résumés stand out, but E-mail is interactive — I can just hit 'reply' to get back to you," says Hack. And her opinion about cold calls: "Very poor." Some recruiters, like Chuck Eldridge, managing director of the financial-officers practice at Korn/Ferry International, don't mind a phone call or even a brief visit to get acquainted — to a point. "I can't do that with every finance person in the country," he says. Which brings us to the next point.

• It's a rat race. Working on about 10 searches at a time, a recruiter might make five calls to prospective candidates per week on each search, according to Hack. That's 50 calls. Each client wants weekly telephone updates on the search progress, which eats up several hours. Candidates who pass initial muster must be interviewed, followed by a written report to the client; this process takes a couple of hours a pop, and sometimes a whole day, if the recruiter must travel to do the interview. That's not to mention their own intracompany meetings or the small matter of finding new business.
Why should you care? "If you call a recruiter and they don't call back, it isn't necessarily because they have a bad feeling about you — it's that they're overwhelmed," says I.H. "Chip" Clothier, managing partner of HFC Executive Search. "There's an assumption that if you call someone they're going to call you back, but it physically can't work that way." Also note that while you may be out of a job, calling recruiters every week for an update is not productive and likely will just annoy them.

• Poor returns. On the other hand, recruiters take a dim view of you not returning their calls. Aside from providing all information about your accomplishments and employment history, the single most important thing to do when making a career change is to return phone calls, according to Eldridge. "It's simple, but the number of people who don't return calls is unfortunately very high," he says.

• It's a cold world. Cold-calling not only can be an annoyance to recruiters, as indicated previously, it's also not likely to land you a job in the short term because headhunters generally do very specific searches. The vast majority of positions they fill are the result of their own proactive searches. Even if you get through to the recruiter and ask what searches are in progress, finding a match is a longshot. "Our clients usually have precise requirements for what they want," says Eldridge. "A lot of times people will try to 'bend' their résumé to fit the situation, but I have to tell them I can't — the client was very clear."

• Heavy hitters. Don't make the mistake of assuming that a recruiter is a lightweight go-between that you cursorily pass by on your way to the real interview. Retained recruiting firms play an enormous role in helping determine who gets hired. If you don't ace your interview with the recruiter, you will never get to see the actual employer. And do not assume you can b.s. the recruiter because he or she knows little about finance. Hack, for instance, is a former CFO, and Eldridge had a long career at a Big Four accounting firm.

• Back-scratching. Among the best ways to build a relationship with recruiters is to help them succeed. If one calls you about a job that is not right for you, make every effort to refer him or her to someone else who might be more appropriate. "I don't forget that, and I try to pay those little dividends back," says Clothier.

• A wide net. Don't limit your efforts to network with recruiters to E-mails and phone calls. "Getting to know recruiters through other means is smart," says Clothier. There are professional conferences, finance-industry events, and networking organizations such as the Financial Executives Networking Group, where you can rub elbows with recruiters. "Those are great opportunities for getting to know somebody face-to-face in a 10-minute conversation that can be followed up on later," he adds.

• On the record. Most major recruiting firms offer Websites where you can enter your profile and a résumé into a database that all of the firm's search professionals can tap. The information can be updated at any time; if you are moving to Denver, say, make a note of it in your online profile, which typically will trigger E-mail alerts to the firm's finance recruiters.

• The ship is already sinking. And, yes, do not wait until you are in trouble or transition to start calling recruiters. "It is extremely unfortunate that so many people don't network or do it too late," says Eldridge.

Executive Recruiting Tips from

How to Keep Your CFO Job amid the Crisis: Headhunter Tips

Fight the urge to take the safe course, watch out for customers' credit-worthiness, be open to new roles — and don't take a vacation. Marshall Krantz, USOctober 31, 2008
When the shooting starts — literally or figuratively — the best advice is usually to keep your head down. But some executive recruiters counsel that now is not the time for timidity.
In this current economic turmoil, they say, CFOs and other senior finance people can better prove their worth if they instead raise their profiles, facing head-on the challenges that beset their companies.
"Be bold — careers are made during a crisis," said Scott Cuellar, managing director of Cavoure, a Chicago-based boutique recruiter. "Take the biggest challenge in front of your function or business and put energy into it and make tough decisions. If the prevailing wisdom might be safety and if the facts support a different, measured action that counters the organizational thinking, that's an opportunity for finance executives."
Cuellar noted that finance people are being tapped to explain the economic crisis and to help navigate through it. "Boards and CEOs expect the CFO to be on the forefront of assessing potential impacts on their own companies and the business environment in their industries," he said.
Jo Bennett, a partner with Battalia Winston in New York, echoed Cuellar's sentiments.
"You really need to be at the top of your game right now," she said, "and that doesn't mean closing the books a day early. CFOs should make sure that every day they know what's going on in the broader markets and how that affects their companies. Read everything you can get your hands on."
Given the continuing credit crunch, CFOs should especially focus their attention on access to credit, not only for their own companies but also in terms of how the credit situation may affect their customers.
"Look at the credit-worthiness of your customers to see if there's a risk," Bennett said. "A once-steady customer may go away because it can't get credit to operate its business.
"CFOs need to do a lot of worst-case analysis," Bennett added. "They need to have not only a Plan A but a Plan B and even a Plan C.
Barry Bregman, a partner with CTPartners in New York, argued that maintaining access to credit is one of the most important tasks facing CFOs at present and in the near future.
"You've got to be laser-focused on capital structure and funding sources for the business," said Bregman, who specializes in the financial services industry. "You need to maintain strong relationships with banks, rating agencies, and investors. There's more focus now on strong communications and transparency with key constituents."
That's not to say compliance has fallen by the wayside, especially at a time when the government is looking even harder at the operations of financial services companies. "CFOs should make sure they have their eye on that ball and that they have the right people managing those functions," said Bregman.
But having the right people within the finance organization for specific functions will probably prove harder, because CFOs will likely face staffing freezes or cutbacks in this down economic environment.
"Leadership is going to be important to keep staff motivated and focused," said Bregman. "It's going to be a delicate balancing act between making tough decisions on staffing levels and keeping folks motivated."
As the economy verges toward recession, CFOs also must make tough decisions — or at least tough recommendations to CEOs and board members — about other possible cuts in expenditures as well as curtailing investments, such as whether to invest in growth or new technology.
"The fourth quarter is budget season for most companies, and the plans for '09 are looking a lot different than a few months ago," Bregman said.
Cavoure's Cuellar added that risk management is a highly valued skill at present across industries and that finance people should take the opportunity to showcase their skills whenever they can.
Over and above any specific skill, the trend toward employers demanding that senior finance people possess broad-based skills will likely intensify as board members and CEOs now more than ever demand that their CFOs perform as business strategists and leaders, according to Cuellar.
He recommended that finance people more vigorously pursue opportunities that broaden their résumés. "People should be open to moves within their own organizations, or even in other organizations, that might appear to be lateral moves," he said, adding, "Know and anticipate what critical issues your company will likely face and how they might impact your role."
In short, the current economic crisis further pressures CFOs and other senior finance people to up their game.
Said Bennett, "Now's not the time to take a vacation."

© CFO Publishing Corporation 2008. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 06, 2008

More good news for the staffing industry!!

While the economy and corresponding job market may be slowing down, the work is still there and companies are using contractors to get the work done!