A Deep Bench of Financial Leadership – The NSS Team

Access to a Deep Bench with As-Needed Solution

The NSS Team offers financial expertise that large companies have access to but smaller companies typically do not.  Compromising with a one-person-do-it-all is no longer the only option. NSS has a part-time solution allowing small to medium sized companies to work with a deep bench of financial professionals and business partners. We have expanded our team with broader capabilities and specialties. Let me introduce you to this vibrant group of senior level professionals:

  • 180+ years of CFO/COO/Controller expertise
  • Our team has participated in 40+ M&A transactions on the sell and buy side in excess of $2.5Billion
  • 25+ ERP Process Flow Management Projects completed
  • Currently engaged in Part-time CFO, Full-time Interim CFO, Business Advisor and Controller

Frank M. Bahl, CPA, MBA, CGMA, FHFMA

Specialty:  Health Care and Construction, Cost Accounting

bahl@nextstagesolutions.com

Amy R. Feldman, CPA, MBA

Specialty: Retail, Software, Venture and Emerging Company Management and Finance

Feldman@nextstagesolutions.com

Derek A. Smith, CA, CPA, CGMA

Specialty: Software (Premise based and SAAS), and Professional Services

smith@nextstagesolutions.com

Robert M.  Weber, MBA

Specialty:  Life Sciences, Biotech, Medical Devices and Big Pharma

weber@nextstagesolutions.com

Ben Weller, MBA, CPA

Specialty:  Lean Manufacturing, Retail and Enterprise Business Systems

weller@nextstagesolutions.com


Want to meet with us? Give us a call today at 617-449-7728 or send us an email.


To CFO or not to CFO? Better Invest Now!

By Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions, Inc, a leading on-demand financial management advisory firm.

Are you tired of reading about the economy, the uncertainty, the election, Greece and the possible fall of the Euro when all you want to do is grow your business?

So many uncertainties and yet how do you calculate them into your forecasts? To CFO or not to CFO is firstly about whether you make the choice, or not, to work with a CFO and secondly, how to augment the missing expertise or skill set to work with your trusted CFO and/or Controller so not to harm sustainability and growth. Believe it or not, the right CFO can make all the difference. In this article we give you ideas and a checklist how to identify CFO capabilities that stretch way beyond the conventional CFO boundaries. We will explore ways to access or augment expertise without compromise.

Let us take a few minutes to explain why a CFO is so important to your growth and why you should invest in such a solution! What do your current finance functions look like?

Are any of the above people your partner who can offload some of your responsibilities so you can spend time ON the business? Do you gather information and problem solve 24/7 and have to make all the decisions on your own? Does the finance staff even have the time to work ON the business with you and what might be the barriers to your growth?

You see, with the right CFO you can actually delegate important executive level tasks. Controllers are very important in that they keep you compliant, give you the financial, monthly reports, take care of payroll and reconcile your bank statements, important but mostly tactical. The VP of Finance oversees the tactical side and provides administrative and HR support.

Let’s discuss the other side of finance, the strategic, forward–looking and value creating aspects of finance. Here are some examples of what your Accountant, Controller or VP of Finance do not do or help you with, but the CFO will:

The list above exemplifies what a cross-functional, modern CFO must bring to the table and where small and medium size companies make the biggest concession in hiring a ‘Jack of all Trades’ or one person who can do it all. They can’t, it is that simple. For them, a part-time team solution involving a CFO, Controller and Accountant is appropriate. To maintain sustainability or achieve growth, especially in a sluggish economy, you must consider alternative resources appropriate to your stage and size of company. You want to have most of the above items checked to eliminate business performance gaps.

Think about your strategy, expectations and goals and how you are going to achieve them before you go out and start a search for a CFO or Controller. Consider the next level of financial sophistication to meet your objectives and goals so that the value-driven support benefits your business growth and increases your valuation.

So often we see CEOs struggling with this issue of what the CFO should bring to the table and what a Controller takes care of.  Should they be strategic? Why are they not interested in your vision? Why do they never have the time?

The reasons vary by business, often we see that the CFO has to oversee all finance functions and is simply bogged down with all the daily, transactional tasks. The CFO should help you grow the business in a sustainable manner.  If s/he spends time working on monthly reports, then you are compromising and overpaying, because that is Controller work. In fact, a team will bring you more bang for the buck than one person who will accomplish some of the tasks some of the time. You may also consider augmenting the current CFO’s tasks or skill set with a consultant who can provide you the additional expertise needed to move your business forward. Frankly, no CFO knows everything in today’s complex business world, so budget for extra support to access the needed expertise.

In the table below we have identified key questions and expectations you want to set when searching for a CFO or identifying the resources gap between what you have and what you need.  Again, when the CFO is allowed to focus on the value drivers of the business, the results are value creation driven.  It takes soft skills to successfully achieve the hard skills. Communications is an important attribute and soft skill for a CFO to have, since the metrics and expectations (hard skills) you set for the employees are relationship based and require buy-in from all employees to succeed.

Once you create this gap analysis you will want to consider how to augment the missing capabilities. Let’s say you are a company with under $20M in revenue. You can rarely justify a fulltime CFO. The team approach to finance including a part-time CFO, Controller and Accountant is very effective. CFO Turnover is still close to 18 months and ends up a very costly event for a business. Think hiring bonuses, severance pay and more.  The CFO you have currently may no longer have the right skill set, especially since you want to double your growth over the next three years. Often s/he has become your trusted advisor but you easily can eliminate business performance gaps with a consultant.  A CFO Consultant is often better positioned to provide you frank and objective feedback on issues and problems that need fixing, whereas a fulltime employee might be more cautious.

Yes, it is a paradigm shift in how we think about the finance function and how much to expect from them. On the other hand, how we conduct business today has also shifted and gotten more complex. Tomorrow’s companies need to be agile and fast in making changes and corrections on the fly.

To CFO or not to CFO is an important decision to make for you and having the right CFO and finance function is where a profound difference will break down the barriers to growth. Take action today, evaluate your finance team, perform a gap analysis, budget for the appropriate resources and make the necessary corrections sooner than later.

Next Stage Solution benefits its clients because we set very high expectations for the CFO role, the FUTURECFO™, who brings the GPS of Finance™ tools and methodologies to the discussion. Our CFOs understand how to parse out the financial responsibilities so that you benefit from a strong compliance side with a Controller, to the business insights, metrics and growth opportunities from the CFO.  Our team approach gives you seamless support when you need it with capital efficiency and highest productivity. And no, you will not find our CFOs or Controllers doing Sudoku in their office!

With our assessment tools, we help eliminate business performance gaps and define the right finance functions for you. We’ll have a conversation about how to reach your aspirations and solve the upcoming challenges.

Take action today and give us a call at 617-449-7728 or contact me directly at scheiberkurtz@nexstagesolutions.com | http://www.nextstagesolutions.com

Articles of Interest Related to the FUTURECFO™:

For CFOs, A Move Past Finance – Wall Street Journal | July 31, 2012

As your Business Grows, don’t hesitate to hire a CFO – The Globe and Mail | June 18, 2012

Where Finance Efficiency meets Business Insight – 2010 IBM Global CFO Study: Where Finance Efficiency meets Business Insights | March 6, 2012

Moving from CA to CFO – A Competency Framework | Queen’s University | 2010

A CEO Survey to gain trigger points for action

Are you a CEO or  President of a company? If so, take this survey and be done in less than 4 minutes!!

We want your participation in our Annual NSS CEO Survey. The survey is anonymous, so your privacy is completely protected. The information collected from this survey will be aggregated and only the collective data will be shared.

We are conducting this survey to better understand how you view the current and future state of your organization and what is of importance to your company in moving forward.

We have experienced one of the worst economic cycles in the nation’s history.  From today’s afflictions to tomorrow’s aspirations, the annual NSS CEO survey presents a number of options that will contribute to overcoming challenges. Rank what priorities you think are most important and then find out what your peers are thinking.

How will you prioritize the next steps for your organization?

Within the framework of present state, future state, challenges and resources, please review and rank the following questions. It is a forced rating, meaning that we ask you to choose from most to least.

To take our survey, please go to:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/NLHHBP2


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Next Stage Solutions, Inc. 2011- Proprietary & Confidential

GPS for Budgets & Forecasts: What are your Value Drivers?

NSS Workshop Series for CEOs and Business Owners

If you are a service provider receiving this, please share it with your clients, a value add for you, thank you.

GPS for Budgets & Forecasts: What are your Value Drivers?

Date: Wednesday, 11 May, 2011 | 7:30am – 9:30am

Place: Bridge Bank | 1050 Winter Street | Suite 1000 |

Waltham, MA | light breakfast

The measure of how you execute strategy is captured in the topic of Budget. But different areas of your business require different measurement criteria, all of which fall under the subject of Budget.  In this workshop we will discuss and answer questions around value drivers and how to communicate and manage your goals within your business. We will also talk about the importance of aligning strategy to Budget.

Mail in or bring your questions to this interactive discussion with our very own NSS team:

Moderator:

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO, Next Stage Solutions, Inc (NSS)

Panelists:

John Connolly, CFO, NSS
Steve Dance, CFO, NSS
Laurie Taylor, Controller, NSS
Ben Weller, CFO, NSS

Host:

Dick Sweeney, Partner, Bridge Bank

Discussion Topics:

  • How can your budget enable you to execute your strategy?
  • How does your organizational culture drive the way you design a budget?
  • What are your business drivers and what methods and uses should you focus on?
  • How do you integrate functional planning into your budget implementation process?
  • What are the metrics dimensions of a budget?
  • What budget profiles fit your industry?
  • How can forecasting be a reality measure on your business strategy?

Who should attend?

CEOs and presidents of companies with $3MM+/- of revenue who are considering next steps for their company.

If you do not match the above criteria, please forward this email to clients and colleagues who are. They will appreciate it. Thanks.

About the NSS CEO Workshops Series:

Next Stage Solutions, Inc (NSS) is a financial consulting firm providing CFO and Controller support to growing businesses on an interim or ongoing basis. Through its extensive network, NSS began offering the workshops in 2010 exclusively to CEOs and presidents of growing companies.  These workshops are interactive in nature and encourage company leaders to explore new ways of tackling the complexities a 21st century business, to learn from each other and gain new and more effective tools in leading their business to the next stage.

Register today at info@nextstagesolutions.com or 617-449-7728

CEO of NSS participates as Advisor in Larta NIH-CAP Life Sciences

Rudi Scheiber-Kurtz, CEO of Next Stage Solutions is participating in the life sciences Commercialization Assistance Program (NIH-CAP).  The program’s purpose is to support SBIR funded companies to commercialize.  The feedback sessions are by invitation-only and held in three cities nationwide and in Boston on Feb 3rd and 4th.  Boston will have 20 medical device, healthcare, biotech and pharmaceutical companies presenting.  This is Ms. Scheiber-Kurtz’s third year of mentoring early stage life sciences start-ups through this program.  For more information about the program go to www.larta.org

Win $50K of NSS services in exchange of $5K to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay

win win win is our game…

Big Brothers Big Sisters | The Winner | Next Stage Solutions

Welcome to the NSS unCommon Contest, where all participants are winners!

We’re looking for one business with the drive to reach the next  stage – and the desire to do good.

What’s in it for you?

The opportunity to be selected to win financial consulting services from the NSS team valued at approximately $50,000 in exchange for a $5,000 donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay. Would your business benefit from a financial consultation, performed by an experienced team of CFOs and senior-level finance consultants who are well versed in best practices and competitive strategies?

Probably. But in these uncertain economic times, the challenge is finding the cash to pay for expert support.

What’s in it for us?

We believe in driving value for our clients and driving the economy upwards. We believe in doing good for those around us. The NSS unCommon Contest helps us do both. NSS prides itself on helping companies get to the next stage. Why not do it in a way that helps us raise money for the needs of New England’s children and families?

That’s where the NSS unCommon Contest comes in.

In the spirit of giving, NSS has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay to raise $5,000 for the needs of children and families across New England.

For contest details and proposal form, click here

No phone calls please.  Questions and answers will be addressed in our “Intent to Bid”  Pre-Proposal Conference Call.

HIRE Tax Breaks Supporting the Recovery

By Lauriston Taylor, Controller Consultant, Next Stage Solutions, Inc. (NSS)

Summary:

The IRS has implemented two new tax breaks under the HIRE (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act) program that will provide new incentives for employers to stimulate their staffing efforts.  Employers may qualify for the following two tax exemptions:

  1. Payroll tax: 6.2 percent payroll exemption of social security tax on wages, effective dates are 2 February 2010 through 31 December 2010.
  2. New Hire Retention credit: $1,000 per additional new worker that is retained for at least one year with no significant wage reductions during the later part of the year

Qualified Employees:

Those employees beginning employment after 3 February 2010 and before 1 January 2010 for a period of 60 days have been previously unemployed or worked 40 hours or less.  The following situations will qualify:

–  hiring a replacement for an existing position that has become vacant due to termination for cause or voluntary resignation

–  staffing of a new company and its initial staff

–  hiring for public colleges and universities

 

The staffing additions listed below will not qualify:

– State, local and federal positions

– House hold employers

– Independent contractors

– Employees who are related to the employer or who directly or indirectly own more than 50 percent of the business

 

The new hire should supply a signed Form W-11 and this should be kept on file for record keeping purposes.

Additional information:

For further details please refer to the IRS website

Form W-11 can be downloaded from this link

Reflections from the NSS CEO Workshop- Sept 21, 2010

The workshop was sponsored by NSS and hosted by WilmerHale Venture Group. The NSS CEO Workshop Series is intended for CEOs of revenue producing companies.

The board room was chuck full at the WilmerHale Venture Group office in Waltham. The invited speakers were Joan McArdle of Mass Resource Capital, Jane Braun of Silicon Valley Bank, Robin Lockwood of Flybridge Venture Partners and Christopher Mirabile of RacePoint Capital LLC.  The panel discussion was led by Lee Schindler of WilmerHale.

The focus was around changes in the funding arena and how that has affected each group.  We then opened it up to a dialogue with the CEOs.

Here are some interesting facets of this discussion (loosely defined by NSS):

  • Significant changes in activity around Angel Groups, almost a flip side between VC and Angel funding.
  • More syndications between Angels and VCs.  Angels are valuation centric.
  • Huge migration in the VC world and closing of funds from 800-900 down to 600-700 VC funds
  • Because of high multiples among some VCs,  Angels are filling some of that gap
  • With uncertainties in economy it has been hard for companies to commit to expansions
  • Lots of Re-Capitalizations are happening.  Good timing.  With lower interest rates it is advisable to reconsider a re-cap with the layers of debt and the different view from lenders a company may have.  Mass Capital Resources provides this type of re-cap with a 2-3yr interest only financing.  Mass Capital is currently doing deals in the $1M to $5M range and at an interest rate typically between 10% and 12%.
  • Companies are starting to invest again.  All agreed that they are seeing an uptick in business activities.
  • There is a huge Global push
  • More VCs give smaller checks
  • VC’s today are investing in companies that are capital efficient or not at all.
  • It’s more difficult to get investment in a product or services business than it is in a software business.
  • How do you get a highly leveraged company to an exit in today’s market?  Not really any differently.
  • How can an entrepreneur know how much money to raise?  Determine what the life of an investment is and then try to match it with the right investor.  For example, an investment of $500K to $2.5M over the life of the investment probably won’t be appealing to a typical VC.  Putting in $30M over the life of the investment would be more appealing.
  • How often do Angels and VC participate in similar events?  There are some forums when a mixture of investors is present.
  • How about grants as a way to get some funding?  That may be a good thing (it’s non-dilutive) as long as it fits your business strategy.  Do not lose focus.
  • Whether or not an angel or VC invests in the company depends in large part on how good the entrepreneur is.  “Can he/she do it?”
  • Best thing to do if you’re raising money – Don’t go around town asking for money.  Instead, spend your time building relationships with investment community, asking questions like “what would you do if you were me?”
  • M&A activity is picking up and deal flow is up

Our next CEO Workshop will be Tuesday, November 9 from 7:30am-9:30am and the topic will be around “Merger & Acquisitions”.  Save the date!

Finance and Funding Options Panel

Join us for the Finance and Funding Options Panel

Date: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | 7:30am – 9:30am

Place: WilmerHale Venture Group | 1100 Winter St

Bay Colony Corp Center | Center Entrance

4th Floor | Waltham, MA 02451

Exclusively for CEOs of revenue producing companies who are considering raising expansion capital. Come and meet the experts, learn what’s new and explore what type of financing or funding matches your needs. Lots of time for Q&A, so bring your questions.

Panelists:

Jane Braun, Silicon Valley Bank

Christopher Mirabile, Race Point Capital

Joan McArdle, Mass Capital Resource Company

Robin Lockwood, Flybridge Capital Partners

Moderator:

R. Lee Schindler, WilmerHale

Sponsored by Next Stage Solutions, Inc

Attendance is complimentary, but registration is required.  Call today 617-449-7728 or send an email info@nextstagesolutions.com. 

Interview with our new team member – Laurie Taylor!

Laurie Taylor joined the NSS team recently.  He has over 20 years of experience and has worked with multiple start-up as Controller. We are delighted to have him on board.

Most Satisfying: In your CONTROLLER work you have done in the past, what is the most satisfying feedback you got from the CEO?

Nineteen out of twenty client companies have offered me a full time position during the engagement.

Most Inventive: Given that as CONTROLLER we understand the importance of providing our clients with more than just accounting and financial reporting, share with us a project that truly made you a value creator.

I began a two person project to determine why a major bank’s ATM conversion had an out of balance total of $19M after the merger of the two banking systems.   The bank booked a 200k reserve to cover this reconciliation exposure.  I requested a Bank Tiger team to assist my current consulting team and at the end of the project we had completely reconciled the account and were only unable to account for $9k in bank funds.  We also discovered a major systems glitch that was the result of the systems merger and trained the banking staff to recognize the problem and how to correct the system if it occurred again.

Most Positive: CONTROLLER’s have different skill set, yet often we are viewed as one of the same.  Tell us a story where your actions made a powerful positive change and why.

I was assigned a project to take over for a Director of Finance at a specialized moving van company.  I first determined that there was a massive amount of misspending going on and no one was managing the AR accounts.  In 6 weeks we were able to make enough corrections that company was stable enough for sale to a much better funded and staffed regional carrier.  The sale of this business unit saved 250 staff member’s jobs as a result of the merger instead of a company closure due to prior management neglect.

Best Business Book: What should every CEO be reading going forward in this tepid economy?

The Why of Work: How Great Leaders Build Abundant Organizations That Win by
David Ulrich and Wendy Ulrich

Funniest Fact: Tell us something funny about you.

I am crazy about WWII aircraft that have massively supercharged engines that “go fast, stay low, and turn left!” also known as the National Championship Air Races held each fall in Reno, NV.  The only rules are that these planes must have a prop and straight wings.