Interview with Joe Worth
Interviewer: Andrew Zezas, SIOR
Following is the transcript of a CFO Studio interview between Andrew Zezas, CEO of New Jersey based Real Estate Strategies Corporation and finance executive, Joe Worth, Vice President of Operations and Partner at B2B CFO.
Visit www.CFOstudio.com to read about this interview and to watch the entire video interview.
The Smart Career Alternative for CFOs
Zezas: Hi, this is Andrew Zezas, your host at CFO Studio. I have a pleasure of being joined today by Mr. Joe Worth. Joe Worth is Vice President of Operations and Partner at B2B CFO. B2B CFO is the oldest and largest CFO services firm in the world, hosting 215 partners in 40 states. Joe’s background includes having been a finance executive for more than 25 years, having led two companies as President, and having been involved in sales and marketing. Joe is here today to talk to us about The Smart Career alternative for CFOs. Joe it’s great to have you here on CFO studio.
Worth: The pleasure is mine Andy.
Zezas: Thank you for joining us. Joe, B2B CFO has seen tremendous growth in the last few years, tell me who B2B CFO is, and what the company does?
Worth: B2B CFO provides CFO services to small, midsize, and growing businesses on an affordable and as needed basis. The heart of what we do is to help business owners get cash so they can sleep better at night.
Zezas: I like cash, I like sleeping better, and primarily you’re talking about private companies?
Worth: Private companies, yes.
Zezas: Across all industries?
Worth: Virtually all industries, but just privately held companies yes
Zezas: And no geographic boundaries, continental United States?
Worth: Continental United States, exactly.
Zezas: And I would imagine some companies have interest outside of the country as well?
Zezas: Absolutely. Okay. So how long has the company been around, when was it founded, by whom, and why?
Worth: The company was founded in 1987 by Jerry L. Mills in Phoenix, Arizona. Jerry founded the company because he was a partner in one of the original “big 8” accounting firms, and he found that the retirement plan was a pink slip when he was in his mid-50’s.
Zezas: Not very exciting.
Worth: He vowed to never let that happen to him, and so he virtually invented the business of part time CFO for multiple clients. And now as you said we are up to 25 years later and we have our 25th anniversary next month, and we are here as the leader in the pack.
Zezas: Now you’ve got a pretty interesting background, share with me your background a little bit, and what brought you to B2B CFO?
Worth: I had been the CFO for five different companies, four privately held, and one company we did the IPO and went public. And each CFO job, each CFO full time position lasted more time than the one before, and the last two had the same exact salary..
Zezas: So let me interrupt you, let me cut you off, I am sorry. So the time periods got smaller and the pay leveled off?
Worth: Yes, the pay leveled off. If you look at industry statistics for CFOs, we see that the average tenure of a CFO is now less than twenty-four months, and it takes CFOs at least six months and often as long as a year, to find a new job. Well it doesn’t take a MBA to do that arithmetic to figure out this is not a great way to health, wealth, and happiness.
Zezas: No those numbers don’t work.
Worth: So I got tired of what I call “the all your eggs in one basket” employment strategy, so that was the first thing. The second thing is I had worked for start-ups and growth companies, and I got a little tired of growing equity and wealth for the owners instead of myself. And the third thing is my wife and I are sailors, and we like to go on a two week cruise on our boat every summer and fly off to exotic places and go sailing, and as a full-time CFO you are not control of your own time. So those are my three big reasons for joining B2B CFO.
Zezas: So eggs in one basket (no more of that), building equity not for anyone else but for yourself, and time management? And basically having a balanced life?
Zezas: I can’t think of any better reasons than that. Let’s get back to the B2B CFO model , there are a lot of companies and individuals touting themselves as offering various types of CFO services, what’s different about the B2B CFO model?
Worth: What is different about the B2B CFO is that we are all senior CFOs, you can’t even think about joining our company or becoming a partner unless you have 20 years of total business experience and at least 10 years of CFO or senior financial experience. Virtually all our partners have been a CFO at least once and most of us many times.
Zezas: So 20 years business experience, 10 years plus or minus as a CFO, or substantial CFO backgrounds, those people are serious caliber folks?
Worth: You know Andy there’s a lot of people out there who have a CFO title, many of those especially in smaller companies, are guys that I call “controllers in a CFO suit.”
Zezas: Yeah, that happens a lot. Tell me about the value proposition. What value do CFOs derive when they become partners at B2B CFO versus any other organization that claims to have similar services?
Worth: Versus other organizations, or versus doing it themselves, is very important because there’s lots of CFOs that lose their jobs and think “I am going to go out and become a consultant.” And it’s a bad alternative. What we offer is a way for a CFO to learn how to get clients, how to service those clients. He already knows how to be a CFO, we don’t have to teach them that, but we’ve got to teach them how to sell and the biggest part of that is getting their minds right. We teach them that selling is providing value to meet people’s needs in line with their own values. In fact it is very important; our company’s core values are honesty, integrity, and objectivity, and objectivity is extremely important because what that means is you are going to do the best thing for the client objectively, not what is in your best interest. So that’s a huge part of what we do. After their initial training and we have follow on training that lasts for 8 weeks, then we assign each of the new partners a coach. Our coaches are all partners in B2B CFO, they are senior level partners, and they’ve been through professional coaching training and are certified coaches. It is very important. And then afterwards we monitor their performance, and if they need more resources we help them out. In addition a very important part of it is the marketing piece, we have all very high grade marketing collateral, and it’s all completely branded in a professional way. We spend unbelievable amounts of money on our marketing firm every year on brochures, business cards, the whole nine yards. Our website is extremely highly rated it, actually generates leads all the time and generates action. Each partner has his own personal website which he can blog on, we provide subscriptions and content for contact newsletters, and it goes on and on
Zezas: Very robust, sounds very robust.
Worth: Yeah, and one of the real important things is the fact that we mentioned that there are 215 partners running around, which if you add it all up is 6400 years of combined experience
Zezas: Hold on, wait hold on you guys have 6400 years of experience?
Worth: Absolutely, and there is no competitor that can match that. What that means to our clients and what it means to our partners, is that if a business owner comes up with a question or issue which that particular partner hasn’t dealt with we have a forum that’s very confidential, and we get on the forum, we ask these questions, and the answers come back, and it’s unbelievable. In the last week alone, I’ve seen questions and answers about setting up a company in Haiti, some esoteric tax in Canada, how to integrate ADP with QuickBooks, and somebody asking for sample cap table.
Zezas: Ha, It doesn’t get that much more diverse than that?
Worth: It’s unbelievable.
Zezas: B2B CFO has been around for a while; you guys are definitely a class act. And there’s no doubt that the company offers not only to its clients but its prospective partners a world apart from the guy in the briefcase who claims to be an effective consultant, and there’s a place for them too but probably not at your table?
Worth: No absolutely not. There are so many more resources available, and I’ll tell you one thing is that our CFO’s our partners can actually bill at a higher rate than the average guy on the street because of all the resources behind them
Zezas: Sure the resources behind them, because the clients obviously see the value and are willing to pay the higher fee?
Worth: And that’s exactly what I was going to say, that’s because there’s more value in there.
Zezas: So from the client perspective they can buy it cheap, and cheap is out there if they want cheap, or they can buy quality?
Worth: You get what you pay for.
Zezas: You get what you pay for. So now Joe your position at B2B CFO as VP of Operations is a new one, am I correct it’s the only other executive title in the entire company?
Worth: Other than the CEO, correct.
Zezas: Other than the CEO Jerry. What does the role entail because it’s brand new and has never been part of the company, so what do you do?
Worth: Well, we are big enough now that we can afford the role like this, and it very important to drive the company forward, and my main focus is on partner development. We bring partners in, we give them initial training, we give them sales training and we assign a coach. It’s my jobs to watch what they are doing, watch their results and if they need more resources to apply those resources and help them to develop into successful partners. Part of that is also doing firm wide initiatives to help drive their revenue. For instance one of the things we have on our website, on every page of the website, any business owner can click and ask for a free discovery analysis from one of our partners, and all those leads come to me, and it’s my job to figure out what does that business owner need on a very high level basis and assign a partner who is close and has that background and can probably help them the best.
Zezas: So this isn’t a typical sales model where whoever takes the phone call, whether he’s qualified or not, gets the lead and owns the account and tries to fill the order?
Zezas: I just heard of a very sophisticated screening process that you are telling me where the lead comes in, it’s evaluated, resource allocation is compared to the requirements of the client, they’re matched together, and the right services are matched to the right client?
Worth: Yeah and addition to my role as VP I still maintain a small client base, and I just recently had a situation where a lead came in from a contact and I didn’t have the time available to help them so I brought another partner in, introduced them, and during that discovery analysis we discovered that there was a particular expertise that was absolutely needed to do the right thing for the client, so we brought that third partner in, and those two partners are now taking great care of that client.
Zezas: It sounds like there’s a very logical, intelligent approach. You’re matching client needs with the company’s ability to deliver the right service, and you’re taking some very sophisticated people who are already very knowledgeable, very accomplished in their own right and expanding on a skill that maybe a lot of CFOs haven’t really unlocked, and that’s of being an effective sales person advisor and being able to market and promote themselves properly?
Zezas: And I know you’ll agree that CFOs are among the most important sales in any organization because they are selling all day long?
Worth: They are selling all day long but they hate it, and they don’t believe in it, and every experience they’ve had on the other side of the table is bad. What we do is align their minds to the fact that what’s valuable and what’s right is doing what the customer wants and needs, and that’s in line with their values they bring to the table and in line with those core values of integrity, honesty, and objectivity.
Zezas: This is a true executive level of selling this is not street corner, used car, plaid jacket type of stuff. This is a very high level type of selling, and I can tell.
Worth: Selling is not a dirty word in our company.
Zezas: That is correct. You are absolutely right, absolutely right. It’s not anywhere if it’s done well.
Worth: I completely agree.
Zezas: It sounds like you guys do. Joe, what do you enjoy most of this? I can feel your energy, I know you’re having a good time, you seem very comfortable in this position, what do you enjoy most about your role at B2B CFO?
Worth: You know the best time I have on any given day is when I get an email from a partner that says “Boy I was really not doing well and you guys helped me out and now I just got 3 new clients in the last month and it’s allowed me to take a vacation I’ve never took before.” And you know seeing the partner succeed, which also means success for the company, is my biggest joy and fulfillment in the company. I’ve actually said that working for B2B CFO was the only job I would ever take other than being a partner in B2B CFO and helping out clients on a full-time business. I feel that strongly about the company and its growth and its success and what it’s doing for its partners and its client’s.
Zezas: That’s tremendous, that says a lot about you, and it says an awful lot about that company.
Worth: Yeah and the other thing I really enjoy is working with Jerry Mills, our CEO, I’ve had one other fantastic mentor in business and Jerry is the second one, my only regret is that I didn’t meet Jerry earlier.
Zezas: That is a tremendous compliment about Jerry and the organization he’s built, and it says a lot about you as well. If people who are watching this video, CFOs, are interested in learning more about B2B CFO how can they find more information?
Worth: It’s really easy. www.B2BCFO.com and click on the career portal.
Zezas: Excellent, excellent. It can’t get much easier than that.
Zezas: Joe, this has been great. We’re about out of time. I want to thank you very very much for visiting with us on CFO studio, I hope you come back and see us again.
Worth: I’d love to, thanks Andy.
Zezas: This is Andrew Zezas, your host at CFO studio, with Joe Worth of B2B CFO saying thank you very much for watching.
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