Nicholas Andrews is the Founder of Aspen Consulting Group, a company that performs finance, accounting, and operations consulting for a wide range of small and medium sized businesses. Aspen’s services include technical accounting, corporate finance, valuations, operations planning and M&A due diligence, among others.
Prior to founding the Aspen Consulting group, Nick was part of a three-member founding team that grew an asset management business from $0 to $1.5B in AUM across the real estate and energy sectors in less than 4 years. Nick’s 20 years of experience includes establishing finance and accounting operations from non-existent states, as well as managing annual budgets of $200M+ for several publicly-traded entities.
Nick received his MBA from UC Berkley, and his BSBA in Accounting & Finance from The University of Denver. Nick is a CPA and resides in Denver, Colorado, with his family.
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All Things Finance & Accounting: Managing Cash & Liquidity, Employee Financial Literacy, Capital Allocation, Preparing for Macroeconomic Turbulence, and Hiring Your First CFO – In The Trenches
Specific Questions and When They’re Asked
Cash and Liquidity Management
- (3:55) How should CEOs think about how much cash to keep on their Balance sheets at any given time?
- (7:10) Are there any rules of thumb that might further inform this question?
- (9:29) How is your answer impacted by the current inflationary environment, where cash on the balance sheet loses value to inflation over time?
- (12:55) Of all of the levers that CEOs can pull to shore up their liquidity position, which one tends to be most impactful?
- (16:21) Should CEOs utilize early payment discounts as a tool to manage their liquidity positions?
- (18:14) What variables should CEOs consider specific to the idea of increasing volumes during liquidity crunches?
- (21:05) What are some less obvious drains/uses of cash that the average SMB CEO tends to be less frequently aware of?
- (25:04) What are some tactical practices/exercises that CEOs should regularly engage in that would constitute “good corporate hygiene” with respect to cash management?
Employee Financial Literacy
- (29:28) How much financial information do you think SMB CEOs should be sharing with their entire employee base? Why?
- (36:43) Are there any metrics that everybody in the company should have a deep understanding of? Why? And what are they?
Capital Allocation & Budgeting
- (38:53) What are some of the more common mistakes you see SMB CEOs making with respect to capital allocation decisions?
- (42:52) How do you deal with situations where managers claim to be in desperate need of new hires, but those hires aren’t accounted for in the company’s budget for the year?
- (46:17) For companies who are net-users of cash (i.e. have a burn rate), what metrics would you need to see in order to be comfortable with that fact?
- (52:22) How should CEOs balance between the discipline and structure that budgets create on one hand, with the flexibility that the “real world” requires on the other?
Hiring for the Finance & Accounting Function
- (58:40) What is the difference between a CFO and, say, a VP or Director of Finance & Accounting?
- (1:02:07) How does a CEO know whether or not she needs a CFO versus, say, a Controller or a Director of Finance?
- (1:04:15) What should CEOs look for in the resumes and interviews? And are there any red flags to be aware of that might be suggestive of a potential bad hire?
- (1:09:42) How do you know that a newly hired Finance/Accounting leader is doing a good job? Are there any metrics that might better inform this question?
- (1:13:58) Given the current macroeconomic volatility/uncertainty, is there anything else that CEOs should be doing that we haven’t already discussed today?
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Links to Resources Discussed During the Episode
- Book: The Four Disciplines of Execution, by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, Jim Huling, Scott Thele, and Beverly Walker
- Book: The Great Game of Business, by Jack Stack