Financial Management fundamentals for CEOs and business owners by Adeniyi Bamgboye

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The difference between a marginally profitable and a very profitable company is good financial management. The role of a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of an organization is highly tasking and demanding. He is the corporate executive responsible for the operations of the organization, reports to a board of directors and may also appoint other strategic managers to assist him in the running of the business. He will have to formalise the roles and responsibilities of the management team, including determining the degree of delegation. He must have a helicopter view of major concerns affecting the business. This includes an understanding of the corporate strategy of the business , business models, level of competition , the internal and external environment, just to mention a few.
The maximization of the value of the business is also the core responsibility of the CEO which is mostly measured in financial terms. This is the major reason why a CEO needs to be financially knowledgeable and savvy.  This is also imperative for a small entity where there is no difference between the ownership and management of the business. The man at the helms of affairs will have to be the “jack of all trades” and a master of all major activities affecting the business process. All decisions in a business organization are made in accordance with how they will affect the organization’s financial performance and future financial health.
Statistics have shown that over half of small businesses fail within the first four years of existence. One of the major reasons attributable to this failure is the lack of budgeting. No organization can effectively plan without a budget because when you fail to plan, then you are already planning to fail. According to the American financial author – Dave Ramsey, a budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. The implication of this is that the CEO must be in tune with budgetary process operating within the organization.
Another financial management fundamental a CEO/business owner must learn is effective cash management. As we all know, cash is the life blood of every organisation. It’s also an important component of the company’s current asset position and working capital cycle. The advent of ATM transfers, POS and other settlement/payment systems has reduced the heavy reliance on the physical movements of cash in recent times. Paying rapt attention to the cash flow and burn rate of the organization is highly imperative. Way too many entrepreneurs early-on lose sight of the shore when drifting into the sea.  Secondly, this is for business owners who find it difficult to make a distinction between their personal and company finances. For instance, a CEO urgently needs to settle some pressing personal expenses, he then asks his friend for a bail out. There is nothing wrong with that. It will become an issue if he tells his friend for the sake of convenience to transfer those borrowed funds into the company account just because both accounts (company and friend’s) are domiciled in say, Bank A. We now live in a clime where the advent of the BVN has made all financial transactions so integrated. They are just in a click of a button away. Every hiding route has been blocked. By the time a CEO comingles his personal funds with that of the company, how will he convince the taxman when he comes knocking that the inflow/borrowing from his friend is not a sale proceed from of one of the company’s clients or customers? Remember tax morality is no excuse for tax evasion. Every cash inflow and outflow within your company’s bank statement has its own tax implication. A business owner must always make continuous effort to separate the personal from the official.
Finally, a CEO/business owner must understand basic financial ratios and must be able to follow the financing hierarchy rule. The knowledge of financial ratios is of high importance because it aids the understanding of the relationship between figures in the financials of the organization. On the other hand, the hierarchy rule enables the CEO to value flexibility and control. To the extent that external financing reduces flexibility for future financing (especially if it is debt) and control (bonds have covenants; new equity attracts new stockholders into the company and may reduce insider holdings as a percentage of total holding), business owners prefer retained earnings as a source of capital.
Adeniyi Bamgboye
08060603156 (Text only)
bamgboyeadeniyi@yahoo.com

Adeniyi Bamgboye is an advisor on accounting, audit, tax and business. He holds an MBA in financial management and a member of Association of Certified Chartered Accountant (ACCA-UK), Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) and the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN).

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