Penn State University
President at Western Management Associates - Your CFO for Rent
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As your CFO for Rent® working with CEOs, I help you push to greater profitability and control of your business, maximize your valuation at exit, or restore your company to profitability.
Success stories include:
• Increased an aerospace manufacturer’s profit margin from zero to 10% of sales in 12 months. Continued work has resulted in a business that consistently delivers 15-18% net profit annually.
• Changed the bottom line of a TV commercial production company from losses to record profits in 2 years by improved financial reporting, job cost budget controls and management education.
• Stopped the drain of $50,000 per year in cash by controlling collections, increasing productivity and implementing efficiencies.
• Successfully wound down a failing $30M ad agency, achieving 100% payoff of all creditors, all payrolls met to the last day in business, and owners walked away free of liability or stigma.
• Maximized the valuation of a mobile communication company beyond owner’s expectations, based on an in-place sale agreement, resulting in $5 million additional cash to the owner at exit.
• Avoided the collapse of the financial reporting system of a mid-sized nonprofit agency by orchestrating a critical systems conversion, completed on time and under budget.
I am the author of the Amazon.com best seller Finance for Non-Financial Managers, McGraw-Hill 2003 and Financial Mastery for the Career Teacher, Corwin Press 2010.
Specialties: Collaborating with CEOs to develop, implement and manage financial strategies that will improve profitability, enterprise value and owner peace of mind. Interim and part-time financial management; business planning; management effectiveness audits; due diligence and quality of earnings reviews; management workshops in financial management; executive coaching. Our Controller for Rent™ service provides interim executives to manage financial departments on an interim basis – for a few weeks, a few months, or a few years.
Founder, owner and lead consultant of this boutique firm that provides financial management expertise to middle market companies. The firm provides part time CFOs and controllers to help clients resolve problems affecting profitability and shareholder value. For a few weeks, a few months, or a few years.
A commercial banker referred us to this aerospace manufacturer because of several years of meager bottom line results. Working with the owners and the financial department, we installed a new cost accounting system, implemented better timekeeping, and reviewed the profitability of customer jobs. I increased their profit margin from zero to 10% of sales in 12 months. Then we went to work renegotiating the contract with their largest customer, analyzing the nuances of cost and productivity issues, and raising the caliber of the accounting staff. Today the business consistently delivers 15-18% net profit every year. I still fill the role of the company's CFO.
Best description comes from the client himself: "My work with Gene Siciliano has been the critical factor in my success during my first two years as CEO. He has been a tutor, an interim CFO, and an advisor. I initially relied on Gene as a tutor and teacher as I was adjusting to my new role and developing and refining my financial skill set. Later, I relied heavily on Gene during an interim period when (my company)was searching for a new CFO. Since then, I have continued to meet with Gene, who now works with me in an advisory capacity. There have been many times when I have thought to myself, 'thank God. Gene is coming in today.' Our meetings have been productive and provocative. He has been patient when working through the issues, and he has given me invaluable insight into the financial subtleties of my organization. Most importantly, Gene has become a friend and a confidant."
I was engaged as interim CFO by the professional CEO who was engineering a sale of the company, a mobile communication company in the early days of digital mobility. The preliminary sale agreement calculated selling price on a profit model, so the owner had cut costs to raise profit, including freezing headcount and not replacing departures. The nature of the business was high customer turnover and frequent bad debt write offs. I reorganized and re-staffed the collection department, added incentives and stronger management. The result was a highly productive department that collected far more than it cost, reducing bad debt losses by $50,000 a month and increasing the realized sales proceeds of the business by $5 million.
In 2005 I was engaged to manage the operations side of this company's launch as a spin-off of a major west coast advertising agency. As with many small ad agencies, this one relied on a single blue chip client, and when they lost that client in a re-competition a few years later, I was asked by its east coast owners to guide the windup of the business. The agency billed $30M at its peak, and we had just 6 months to complete committed work successfully, pay everyone off, and close the doors. As acting CFO and agent of the owners, I was successful in achieving 100% payoff of all major creditors, paying in full all remaining employees down to the last day in business, and orchestrating an assignment for the benefit of creditors so that the owners could walk away free of liability or failure stigma.
I was referred to the CEO of a mid-sized nonprofit agency by another not-for-profit CEO on whose board of directors I was serving. The assignment approved by the Board was to perform a financial department management audit to determine why financial reporting was so chronically late. I learned that timeliness of financial reporting was the tip of the iceberg, as the accounting system was being maintained solely on a convoluted nest of spreadsheets that only one (part-time) employee knew how to manipulate to actually produce financial statements. It was only a matter of days before the system collapsed and stopped producing any reports at all.
With the consent of the Board and in concert with the agency CFO I developed a project plan to convert the system to a standard accounting software package and asked the CFO to implement the plan. After weeks of delays the CFO resigned and I installed a contract controller from my team. The conversion proceeded on schedule, and finished on time and under budget.
I subsequently assisted the agency in hiring a new CFO, replacing the CPA firm and establishing an independent audit committee to ensure the Board’s fiduciary obligations would be met going forward.
I was hired as the CFO of a TV commercial production company noted for its creative genius, holding more CLIOs for its work than any production house in town. Unfortunately creativity came at the price of profit, as jobs ran over budget from bad estimating, poor budget management, excessive re-shooting and a general lack of profit consciousness. The company could not get a bank loan and occasionally had to defer paying some of its payroll to continue to operate.
We installed a PC-based budget management system (even spreadsheets were state-of-the-art back then), upgraded the financial staff, and reported each job’s budget management progress weekly. We installed financial controls that enabled the company to diversify from straight animation commercials to live action/animation combined, a new and exciting avenue for creativity within a framework of responsibly bid jobs and conscious job cost control.
The company subsequently reported two years in a row of record profits.
When I was elected to the Board of Directors there were no effective term limits in place, minimal governance structure and no policy for bringing in new ideas and new blood to the Board’s deliberations. Many directors had served for over a decade, some for nearly 30 years. Nearly half were retired from active work. There was concern that strict rules would result in board members leaving the Board with no ability to attract suitable replacements. Some felt that history supported their fears, and change was not welcome. Governance meant loss of flexibility and control. A few board members carefully guarded their personal power on the Board.
Today nearly all long-time directors have retired from the Board; excellent new directors are serving as a result of a strong nominating committee and outreach process. There is a governance committee in place, and our governance guidelines, developed while I chaired the first governance committee in the agency’s history, have been lauded by our regulatory oversight inspectors as a model for the industry. The Board is strong, enthusiastic, and brimming with new ideas for expanded funding, community outreach and additional services.
The best selling guide to the basics of finance in business, this book translates complex business finance concepts into terminology that nonfinancial executives and managers can understand. Topics covered include accounting, budgeting, strategic planning, entrepreneurial finance and raising investment capital. Look for the 2nd Edition coming to bookstores in early 2014.
This book helps educators and other middle income professionals learn how to manage their personal finances, including saving, home budgeting, college assistance, financial planning, insurance, buying a home, estate planning and more. Includes three solid chapters on investing in securities and real estate. Written for teachers but its priceless lessons and guides are valuable for any middle income earners living on a paycheck or two.
Someone had to write it…and that’s why a group of top consultants in Los Angeles did. THE Book on Business from A to Z; The 260 Most Important Answers You Need to Know is the result of trying to constantly answer clients’ questions across a vast range of business topics. After frequent discussions about some of our most challenging engagements, the coauthors realized that we had one thing in common: Clients who were regularly asking questions about many areas beyond our individual areas of expertise. We wanted to be able to provide an ongoing resource for those questions that arise when we are not in front of our clients. This book covers 26 of the most important business topics in the world today. Jennifer Beever wrote the chapter on Marketing, answering the 10 most frequently asked marketing questions business owners have.
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