Performance Boosts


As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q2 2017 Issue



Morale is high, people work hard and seem content, and every employee knows what’s going on behind the scenes at Kepner-Tregoe in Princeton, NJ. The multinational management consulting and training services firm implemented an incentive program as the market started to rebound after the global financial crisis of 2008 – 2009, and, at the same time, took the opportunity to offer employees greater transparency into its financial performance. As a result, “People are motivated in their roles, responsibilities, and decision-making; they’re educated about the business, and all that adds up to a sense of empowerment among the staff,” said Bill Baldwin, CFO and a Kepner-Tregoe Principal.

Mr. Baldwin spoke on “Driving Employee Performance and Engagement – Sharing Financial Intelligence and Insight” at an invitation-only dinner discussion attended by CFOs from New Jersey– area middle market companies. The event was held recently at Agricola Eatery in Princeton and is part of CFO Studio’s Executive Dinner Series.

Mr. Baldwin said the company instituted the incentive plan as a way of rewarding employees for their loyalty and sacrifice during a difficult time that, as at many organizations, included belt-tightening and cost-containment measures. And that naturally led to greater financial transparency. “It just seemed right to let people know if they’re on track to making their goals.”

A Pat on the Back

When the incentive program kicked off about seven years ago, every employee received a 10 percent bonus at the end of each quarter if the operating profit plan within their region was met. “This really registered with people,” said Mr. Baldwin. “It was motivation for them, and it changed their behavior in the business.”

While some incentive plans are based on revenue, “ours is centered around operating profit, and that has significantly altered the way employees view their decision-making when it comes to expenses,” said Mr. Baldwin. “They may reconsider the type of hotel they stay at, or choose a different beverage while dining or meeting with a client.” It’s up to the employee, he noted, “and that’s been empowering.”

These quarterly incentives are now team-based, he noted, since an annual incentive program has been adopted as well, to reward employees according to their individual performance record at the end of the year. “It’s all paid off because people take more ownership and accountability in the overall success of the business.”

Crystal-clear Reporting

With all employees striving to achieve personal and team-based incentives, “we thought it only fair to provide them with greater financial transparency” in an effort to eliminate what Mr. Baldwin called the “surprise factor.” He explained: “We don’t want to reach the end of a quarter or the year and have people surprised that the company or the region has not done as well as they might’ve thought.”

So for the past several years, Mr. Baldwin has been issuing a weekly report to all employees detailing the bookings for the current and next quarter, and comparing that number to the quarterly plan and forecast by region for the entire company.

The report also highlights anyone who has sold a new piece of business over a certain dollar amount in the past week. “When people see their name in lights, so to speak, they love it,” said Mr. Baldwin, who also calls or sends an email congratulating those high achievers. “That’s been very motivational, and great for morale.”

In addition to this weekly report, Mr. Baldwin and the CEO hold quarterly WebEx events (open to all employees) to provide an update on how the company is doing — both regionally and as a whole —what the future looks like, and how the incentives are shaping up. “We try to be as forward-looking as possible to give people an idea of what we expect the results to be for the year,” all in an effort to keep everyone informed from a strategic, operational, and financial standpoint.

“We are as open and honest as we can be with our messaging, and we’ve learned that it has to be repetitive and in terms to which people can connect.” To that end, employees are routinely educated on how to interpret the data contained in the reports, what the trends mean to them, and how the numbers are used by management. “We know we’ve been successful when folks start asking questions, and it becomes more of a two-way conversation. We’ve engaged them, and nobody has been kept in the dark,” said Mr. Baldwin.

Joseph Tammaro, Sector President at TD Bank, North America, and a CFO Studio Business Development Partner, pointed out that one of the biggest challenges in any organization is an “us vs. them” mentality. “It’s encouraging to hear the ultimate outcome of such transparency. A strong cultural foundation has been established, along with buy-in from the employee base who, as a result, will do what needs to be done to secure the viability of the company to move forward.”

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Overall, dinner attendees responded positively to Kepner-Tregoe’s methods, but a few questioned whether it was possible to be too transparent. Mr. Baldwin responded by acknowledging that there are, indeed, risks to transparency. “If a region is having a quarter where they don’t think they’ll make their results, but the next quarter is looking strong, we have to be careful that people don’t manage earnings from a soft quarter into a good quarter, or from one year into the next year.”

In addition, he said, there’s a fine line between being open and honest, and not creating anxiety or panic when business is not as good as usual. “We have to be very careful about our delivery because the last thing we want is people worrying about possible cost-containment actions or that their jobs may be cut.”

Mr. Baldwin believes the frequency of the messaging helps to quell any real fears. “We’ve been doing this for several years now, and people have matured in their thinking and do understand that there are cycles to any business and sometimes there are soft quarters.” And it doesn’t hurt, he added, that “in good quarters, every employee is recognized with a reward for a job well done.”

CFO Studio to Honor Robert Falzon, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Prudential


Excited to announce that Robert Falzon, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Prudential, will be the featured cover story of the Q2 2017 issue of CFO Studio magazine.  Mr. Falzon will be honored at the Q2 CFO Studio Reception.  Stay informed on details by following CFO Studio on Twitter and LinkedIn, or downloading the CFO Studio app for your Apple or Android device.

Innovating to Win


As Seen in CFO Studio Magazine Q4 2016 Issue




On just one day each year, all the announcements and banners and cameras, usually reserved for sports heroes at MetLife Stadium, instead celebrate CFOs. That is the day when CFO Studio takes over venues like the Coaches Club at the stadium for educational sessions, and finance executives pour in to listen and learn, question, and share experiences. The energy is appreciable. (If only it were possible to harness all that brainpower!) With rapt attention, S&P 500 CFOs as well as finance chiefs from much smaller firms absorb insights — not technical accounting points but broader views of the business landscape and the CFO’s changing role in it. Most end the day with a renewed understanding of the tools they might use in meeting their company’s challenges. The 2nd annual event was held May 5, 2016. If you missed the day, a brief overview follows on this spread and the next four pages.

Heavy Hitters

What does it take to be a successful CFO in 2016? That question was addressed in multiple ways by presenters, moderators, and panelists during the 2nd Annual CFO Innovation Conference. Some invoked the volatility in the world that make forecasting and planning for global operations difficult. Some spoke of the need to build intracompany relationships and connections with venture capital and private equity firms. Some described how they protect assets from major business threats. Among the presenters were CFOs from the Federal Reserve System, from AOL, from SAP, and from other notable organizations. Other heavy hitters included the director of cybersecurity for the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness, and the deputy head of U.S. Economics for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

In between the educational sessions, conference participants visited the CFO End Zone and met service providers Robert Half, Reed Smith, Dun & Bradstreet, Alliance Cost Containment, Tahas Technologies, and BC Compliance Group.

A special appearance by Joe Klecko, retired defensive lineman for the NY Jets, sent a buzz through the lunchtime crowd. Klecko shook hands, took photos with CFOs, and signed autographs. A silent auction with autographed Jets memorabilia raised money for three of CFO Studio’s preferred charities. And at day’s end, more networking opportunities presented themselves at the taco station and the margarita bar during a Cinco de Mayo reception.

As the business day morphed into evening, the football field beckoned, and although threatening weather changed plans for a celebration on the 50-yard line, many executives in business garb took a few minutes to memorialize the day with a selfie in the stadium or when walking across the field. Then it was time for the awards in the Toyota Club, where 12 exemplary CFOs were honored as award recipients (and 33 more as finalists) for knowing exactly what it takes to be successful CFOs in times that are uncertain, but exciting.

Copyright 2017