EditorialsBy Matt Bud, Chairman, The FENG

It has been my observation for many years that most of our members who are in their 40’s and 50’s move from large corporations to middle market ones. The reason, as I have often pointed out is that large corporations don’t hire senior executives except rarely. For good and valid reasons, they prefer to grow their own.

As our members assume senior level roles at these middle market firms, their systems undergo a shock of sorts. First, the only reason middle market firms hire senior financial executives is that they have a lot of problems. They want to learn from you, which means your peers in senior management are always in your office seeking your advice. This is a good thing, but it sure makes getting any work done a little difficult.

Now that you have caught the tiger by the tail and found a job where you can see the results of your efforts, you observe that there is no significant staff to supervise. There certainly is no one at your level of experience and competence. None of the systems work. The infrastructure is broken. People around you, including those in your own department, don’t really know what they are doing. Should I go on? Hey, this is why they hired you.

The small problem is that you can’t do it all yourself. The secret that your boss may not have shared with you is that he wasn’t actually expecting you to do it yourself. In the world of business, results are all that matter. Spending a little money to solve long outstanding problems to which you know the answer is a no brainer.

I know that you can squeeze a dime and make 11 cents, but that won’t make the dollars flow into your new company if projects you know how to solve languish on a “to do” list. And, if you try to solve them all on your own, you won’t be very available to your peers who need your advice and counsel.

Step one in any new job is, of course, is to fit in. The boss who told you to shake things up forgot to tell you that you had his permission to do so as long as you didn’t upset anyone. Still, as you go about the business of waving your magic wand and making problems go away, you will at some point run out of steam. There are only so many hours in the day, and for better or worse, you aren’t as young as you used to be.

So, make yourself a “to do” list and draw up a rough work plan of what needs to be done. Don’t limit your thinking to an available budget at this stage. Dream the impossible dream of cleaning up every mess you know can be solved that falls into your areas of responsibility. Trust me, you will find the money. Your peers will help you get the funding from the boss if need be.

Now, how to get it done? I hope everyone knows that I have a consulting practice called The Financial Executives Consulting Group. (Our website is www.TheFECG.com if you would like to learn more about what we do.) The simple story is that we can provide you with peer level consultants who can, under your guidance, solve the issues you have outlined without a lot of supervision. However, our resource pool is limited to the membership of The FENG, so problems you need to solve that don’t fall into the areas of expertise common to our august body, you will need to find other resources to solve. Not to worry, they are out there.

If you can structure a solution for one of your “to do” list items to a simple need for more hands on deck, there are lots of good organizations out there. Depending on where you are located, you should give your fellow members in your local chapter a call and see who they recommend. This is also called networking.

The primary point is to get help. The image you see in the mirror may still look like Superman to you, but my guess is that Superman has gotten a little gray, perhaps put on a few pounds and most likely doesn’t see as well as you did in your prime.

Remember, you don’t have to do it all yourself, you just have to cause it to happen.

Regards, Matt

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