‘It Never Rains on the Golf Course’ and other things to think about……….

Playing Golf in the rain

In a previous office where I worked, there was a print hanging on the wall that showed a golf course in stormy weather with the title  ‘It Never Rains on the Golf Course’.  What does this really mean?  Should we ignore the rain?  What if it’s lightning out there?  How am I to interpret the meaning of this? (I haven’t played golf since College).  So, please read below.

I’ve joined Groups on Linked In.  My favorite, FSN, is made up of finance people (Controllers, CFO’s, academics, writers from across the globe).  We post discussions where we ponder all sorts of accounting philosophies.  Right now we are talking about how to allocate overhead…..on what basis.  I know that for many private company controllers, this is a non-issue.  So is Sarbanes-Oxley and the Dodd-Frank Act.  But here’s my advice to you.  Widen your view.  Subscribe to accounting websites.  Join Linked-In and pick up to fifty groups you might be able to either learn from or contribute to.  And, it’s free.  Even if you are happy as a Controller, try to think like a CFO.  The more you know, the more effective you can be and, by the way, hopefully your opinion will have greater strength.

I know you are probably overwhelmed with e-mail articles pushing the ‘five most……….’ or the ’10 worst’.  It’s hard to escape.  But I still read them or at least review them.

Ask yourself this question, as a controller, ‘where am I weak’.  What do I need to work on?  I attend many CPE classes put on or sponsored by the AICPA.  You don’t have to be a member to attend (it costs a little more).  Attend a class on the latest developments in Internal Control or Compilations & Reviews.  Do not become out of date.

One of my most favorite stories that occurred at a business I know in a town near mine.  In fact, it was a Community Bank.  They hired an I.T. person.  They didn’t provide any training dollars for him.  Three years later they fired him.  Why?  He hadn’t learned to handle new developments in network engineering.  A lot of I.T. people I know connect with a lot of other similarly employed I.T. people.  Becoming irrelevant is a major threat to your job.  And by the way, IT DOES RAIN ON THE GOLF COURSE!   Too many golfers are just in denial.  Are you?  .





Like Controllers, many CFO positions are not as clear cut as you might think.  Some CFO’s manage HR or I.T.  Others operate strictly within the arena of financial matters, short term and long term financing and Treasury.  For many, the progression from Controller to CFO seems clearly a natural one.  But is it?  Sometimes I think we may wonder what skill set it takes to be the Chief Financial Officer of any company. And, I have observed a number of them from my position as Controller.  Most CFO’s don’t get involved in the transactional side of the business.  You don’t see them writing up Journal Entries or getting ‘into the weeds’ of accounting.  Leaving all that behind is not everyone’s cup of tea.  Yes, the title and even the salary level is tempting.  So is the open door to senior management.  But before you attempt the jump, ask yourself this:

  • Do I have a strong background in finance?
  • Did I spend time working in public accounting?
  • Am I a CPA?
  • Can I converse with senior management about complex financial transactions?
  • Do I understand the requirements of good leadership?
  • Am I willing to invest time becoming educated in all aspects of the position?
  • Can I put together a financial model in Excel?
  • Am I familiar with securing financing through various debt instruments?
  • Do I have strong analytical skills, for instance the ability to review financial statements and comment on them?

There are many other questions you might ask yourself as you aspire to become a CFO.  And, if you can’t answer yes to many of these questions, find a way to solve that problem.











As the story about the ‘trumped up’ traffic jam engineered by aides of Governor Christie of New Jersey, one of the networks cleverly played the old song ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’.

If you have been following this case, you already know that Governor Christie denied any personal involvement during a long press conference.  Whether you are for or against him as a  possible contender for the 2016 Republican nomination for President, there is one unescapable truth.  As a Controller, you probably recognize that the issue being raised is ‘tone at the top’ but really, what is that about?

While we often define it as having ethically and morally high standards set by the leadership of a company, it really is much more than that.  If we tell our children, as new drivers, that speeding is dangerous and illegal, and then we speed while they sit in the passenger seat, we have the proverbial ‘do as I say, not as I do’.  So here are my top ten requirements for making sure that ‘tone at the top’ is not just something we give lip service to:

  1. The company treats all customers honestly and provides legitimate products and services.
  2. The company insures that all employees are treated honestly and ethically and are not deprived of their rights or benefits.
  3. The company treats its vendors as stakeholders, pays their obligations responsibly and timely and does not use its’size in unfair ways.
  4. The company acts in the best long term interests of its stakeholders (customers, employees, vendors, lenders, stockholders).
  5. The company does not knowingly imperil the safety of others (for example: using drivers who are not legally authorized to drive).
  6. The company does not knowingly violate the laws of its county, state or country.
  7. The company’s leadership insures that all financial statements released publicly are materially correct and accurate
  8. The company hires qualified, sufficiently trained personnel to fill its management positions.
  9. The company makes compliance issues a high priority.
  10. The company does no harm.

I am sure that there are other areas I have not listed but I believe my list is fairly comprehensive.  If  these are the standards by which a company will live, then I believe that growth will not be impeded.  A I have said before, every day the Wall Street Journal has at least one article about a corporate employee on trial for fraud or theft.  Whether it’s insider trading, embezzlement, intentional misstatements of financial condition, all of these can generally be traced back to tone at the top.  Don’t you agree?


It doesn’t really matter whether you were alive or not, loved or hated John F. Kennedy.  What really matters is that today we are honoring a fallen president.  A president who lost his life at such a young age.  For those of us who remember that day it was as if time stood still.  We had just survived the Cuban Missle Crisis, a showdown over Cuba involving the U.S. and Russia.  Those days of October 1963 had been agonizing as we held our breath not knowing if  as a nation we would live or die.

What we lost was more than a president.  His vision for America died with him.  There was much he wanted to do.  When I hear someone asked ‘what makes a good leader’ I rarely hear a response that includes ‘vision’.  Leadership without vision is is nothing more than managing day to day rather than looking ahead.  Steve Jobs was a modern day visionary, although not well liked by his employees and colleagues.  As controllers, vision is an important skill set.  I’m not suggesting you come up with the next big and new gadget but that you constantly are surveilling your surroundings.  Understanding your work environment, especially its vulnerabilities and weaknesses will often reveal what that next step should look like.

Are your leadership skills in need of improvement?

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