Episode #6

The New Competitive Advantage for CFOs:  Empowered People

CFO, CPA turned business advisor Wendy Fraulo talks about lessons learned building accounting teams and and standing up finance systems. On this new podcast, Wendy, now managing director of Abingdon Square Advisors, shares the importance of empowering people and why empowered employees lead to increased innovation, productivity, and profitability.

"Fundamentally, you really need a strong people organization for any high growth company, right? It starts with people being in the right roles, being empowered to be successful, set up for success delivering that value proposition to the customers and then measuring your success"

Please note that the transcript is AI-generated and may contain errors. Podcast is not intended as advice and is meant for informational and entertainment purposes only.

Chris Ortega (00:15):

Hey, what’s up, everybody? I’m really excited for this conversation today. I’m joined by Wendy Fraulo, who is the managing director at Abingdon Square Advisors, as she shares her thoughts on the new competitive advantage for CFOs, empowered people, and why it’s important for CFOs to get connected with their teams and make an impact across the business. Wendy, welcome to CFO Trends.

Wendy Fraulo (00:40):

Hi, Chris. It’s great to be here today.

Chris Ortega (00:43):

Awesome. So the topic we’re going to talk about today, for all those CFOs out there, the new competitive advantage for CFOs, empowered people. When I think about that, when I was going through and looking at this title, I think for the office of the CFOs, the people transition has gone through so many different waves. We had the great resignation, we had the great recovery, we had a lot of different things that were happening in business specifically around people. And you had some really CFOs that were really able to meet that trend. You had some of them that really had to challenge some of that traditional thinking that they had. So this idea of empowered people, specifically for the finance organization, I think that’s relatively new, right? Compared to other parts of our business. So my first lead-off question is, what are some of the benefits that CFOs can gain from having an empowered finance organization?

Wendy Fraulo (01:41):

Yeah, Chris, that’s… You made a really great point in that there’s so much that’s changing. But one thing that I’ve found hasn’t changed is that, for a high growth company to be successful, the finance organization is really pivotal in that moment, because they give the data back into the organization for good decision making. And fundamentally, you really need a strong people organization for any high growth company. It starts with people being in the right roles, being empowered to be successful, set up for success, delivering that value proposition to the customers, and then measuring your success. And that’s where the bottom of the top is really what we’re talking about here today, putting people in the right roles, and then the finance organization having the tools to measure the success of the company and being empowered to do that. So it’s such a relevant conversation today, even though there’s so much changing within the bigger macroeconomic framework.

Chris Ortega (02:38):

Yeah. And I loved your point about empowering people and putting people in the right seat. When I look back over my career, I knew earlier on when I started off my career in public accounting at Ernst & Young, Wendy, I knew right off the bat, I was not in the right seat. I knew that I was like, public accounting, it’s fun, but I knew it was something different. And I think one of the most important things for CFOs is to put people in the right seat. You got to meet people where they are. I think there’s a lot of times where I’ve had high performers, high potentials on my team, and I can get… They were high potential, high performers in their current role, maybe it was accounting, maybe it was FP&A, but I could quickly tell it was like, something’s changing. There’s something new that they need. There’s something fresh that they… Maybe it’s fresh projects, maybe it’s fresh pieces about that.


So when you think for CFOs, what is that one thing, that one warning light? So for all of those CFOs listening, maybe not necessarily a warning light, but things to look for when you may not be empowering your people, when you got that high potential high performer that is in a quiet quitting sort of phase, which is a topic that we’re talking about right now. How can CFOs identify that and course correct with that talent, to help empower that talent in their organization?

Wendy Fraulo (04:04):

Yeah. So not to say things everyone has been saying, but communication is so clearly important. There’s one thing that… What I do with my teams, and so I go into a lot of companies just like you, and we’re building teams, because you need the functionality to happen within the finance organization. I think about two main things in terms of empowering my team. One, which is I have a mantra of how I develop teams, and my mantra is I hire nice, smart doers.

Chris Ortega (04:37):


Wendy Fraulo (04:38):

So that has worked for me, because that’s my shortcut of really making sure I’m hiring people that do want to learn, and want to grow their careers. So I think that you’re talking about the high achiever, that’s amazing because you want to be a contributor along their own career journey.


The other thing that I try to do is really expand this concept of an entrepreneurial gap. And so the entrepreneurial gap is, if you take one line, which is your current roles and responsibilities, and the other line which is above them, which is things you could possibly be doing within an organization, that’s really where I think you can drive and empower people more, give them more accountability. What are they interested in? And so all of a sudden, even though their current rules and responsibilities could be on the bottom line, they’re really now starting to ride that wave of the top line, including that gap.


What that does is, it does two things. On a promotion perspective, you’re now giving them the direction of a new line of sight to be looking at for compensation, monetary compensation, recognition, promotions, and help guide them in their own career journey. So I think that really growing that entrepreneurial gap among my team is important for me to be doing as a mentor and as a servant leader.


And the other side to that is communicate, listen, make sure that they understand the goals of the company, understand the goals of the finance team. And then what I do on a quarterly basis, because everything changes, make sure their quarterly goals are updated, they’re in line with the science goals, they’re in line with the company goals. And we’re constantly looking at, where could [inaudible 00:06:24] riding that top of the wave, rather than people getting bored and staying on that bottom line? So that’s something I try to do to really create that energy and push that energy forward in the teams that I built.

Chris Ortega (06:39):

Wendy, I love that three-pronged approach. Nice, smart doers. And your framework about that entrepreneurial gap, I never heard that before, and that’s so true. Because when you’re at a publicly traded company, and you’ve got a lot of policies and procedures and bureaucracy, or you’re at a high growth startup, giving people that baseline of, here’s where you’re at, but let’s work together to know you’ve got opportunities to stretch, you’ve got opportunities to develop… And I think so much and so many times, what you identified that gap is so valuable, because now it’s giving people something to aspire to.


And then communication, that’s hugely important. And this is one I want to dive deep into, because I think it’s a real gap for a lot of CFOs. Because traditionally we talk about the performance review process. A lot of CFOs, they have their conversation, maybe they have a monthly one-on-one with their direct reports, and then you don’t really have that really detailed performance conversation about where you’re at, where you want to go, until that performance review time, which typically happens annually. But you need way more frequency and way more touchpoints with your finance team and with your organization to be able to do that.


So when you talk about that communication aspect of it for CFOs in driving empowered people, what has been some frequencies or some sort of cadences that you’ve seen that have been really successful, in terms of you empowering your finance teams that you’ve built or worked for?

Wendy Fraulo (08:16):

Yeah. [inaudible 00:08:19] And one thing that you’re talking about is, not only creating the space for people to communicate, but also making sure they have a voice at the table. What I mean by that is, I have weekly meetings with my team, and one of my key phrases is, and it’s a very New York thing, “If you see something, say something.” And I also say, “Stop the crazy.” Because a lot of people within an organization will [inaudible 00:08:47] be doing a process they’ve been doing every day or every month, and they’ll keep saying, “This process is crazy.” What I try to do is reemphasize constantly, literally daily, stop the crazy. If you see something, say something.


In the weekly meetings, what I’m trying to do is create the space for those conversations to happen. But a lot of people are scared to talk, especially to new leaders. And so you really have to make sure you’re asking the questions, so that when I create these sayings, “If you see something, say something,” what that really means is I’m looking for them for input, how to improve their processes, how to make things easier for them. They know what is frustrating within the organization, with finance, everything comes downhill to finance. And so the finance organization sees a lot of mistakes that happen throughout the organization, a lot of headaches that happen throughout the organization. And so what I try to do on a weekly basis [inaudible 00:09:51] really listen to the team to understand their frustration points, their pain points, and when they’re not talking, push them.

Chris Ortega (10:01):


Wendy Fraulo (10:02):

Because silence is a killer within any high growth organization. So you create the space, but then you have to create a fearless space for people to communicate, that they’re not going to be reprimanded, that their ideas aren’t going to be just cast aside. I really try to make sure that this space I’m creating is fearless, it’s open, and that people don’t feel like something will come back to hurt them by sharing information. That I think is key for leaders to be able to do.

Chris Ortega (10:46):

Yeah. And to all those CFOs out there, we have to stop the crazy. Wendy, I love it. Please, if there’s one thing you take away from this, stop the crazy. But no, talking about it, Wendy, you talked about such a powerful thing, creating the space and creating what you call a fearless space. I call it a learning environment. One of the things that in all of my finance organizations, every team that I led, even at Fresh FP&A, when we work with our internal team and the client’s team as well too, what I like to say, it’s like a safety net kind of thing.


If you’ve been to Cirque du Soleil show in Vegas, you’ve got all this aerobatic stuff that’s happening in the air, you got people doing these awesome things. And I remember going to Vegas, and I was watching one of the Cirque du Soleil shows, and my friend was in the Cirque du Soleil show, and he got to show me the behind the scenes, and it showed him doing all this practicing and doing all these things, but they had this safety net, this multiple redundancy of safety net. And I was looking at him and I asked him, I said, “Hey man, that’s a lot of…” And he was like, “Obviously, Chris, we need a safety net. All the stuff we’re doing up in the air, if something falls, something happens, but it also creates a layer of comfort for us, because we know that if we train at this level, if we go hard at this level, when it comes for showtime, we’re that more crisp.”


And I love that analogy, because with my teams, I’m like, let’s do the same thing. You’re coordinating partnerships with the business, you’re talking with HR, you’re talking with sales. At the end of the day, I’m always going to be that safety net. And I think another thing that CFOs need to make sure that you’re aware of is, you need to be the last to take credit for any success, and you need to be the first to take any criticism. That’s what it has to be. And when you show that, which is talking about creating the space that you talk about, most of it… I’ve worked with a lot of CFOs throughout my career, and a lot of leaders just overall, and when they say they create this space, it’s like, “Hey man, you’re not walking the talk and talking the talk,” or, “Hey lady, you’re not talking the talk and walking the walk. You’ve got to show those things.”


And when you have that as part of your leadership, to me, one of the biggest superpowers for CFOs is vulnerability. It is powerful to say, “I don’t have the answer to that, but I’m going to go back with my team, we’re going to figure it out, and we’re going to do that.” When you create that opportunity where it’s like, “Chris is super smart, he’s one of those nice, smart doers that you talked about, but he’s acknowledging that he doesn’t know it,” that breaks… I don’t have to act like I know everything. You have to talk the talk and walk the walk in creating that space for your finance organization.

Wendy Fraulo (13:44):

Right. But what you were talking about goes back to that servant leader concept, being a team player. If they’re going to identify a problem, clearly the reason that the problem continues to perpetuate is because they haven’t found the solution. I think a lot of times people in our roles have that kind of, we’ve been around longer, and we’ve seen a lot more things. And I think that broader context helps us come to solutions, conceptual solutions. But when you really think about tactical solutions, you need the team to help fill in the blanks of how to really create a long-term solution, what is the root cause of the problem, and create that longer-term solution, and ideally which helps throughout the organization.


And I think that empowering really is listening [inaudible 00:14:39] a little bit of pushing. Because I’ve had tons of examples where I will come up with a project plan, we’ll create the milestones, we’ll fill in all the gaps, and I’ll give it to a team member and say, “Okay, now you run with it.” And I’ll do my periodic check-ins, and it’s not making the right progress. And so I think that you always need to go back to really understand from a person perspective, if the person has a skillset and they’re still not ramping up as fast, there might be something else going… Go back to the drawing board. But again, create that space and listen. Was our plan wrong? Do we need to reiterate the plan? Are you not getting the right support? Are you getting pushback on a different functional area within the organization? Don’t assume the worst, and always just try to be that servant leader to help pull everything forward.


I think that my leader B moments are when I’m pushing my team, my leader A moments are when my team’s running alongside of me. And I think that every CFO struggles. Are you pushing? Are you pulling? How many of your team members are running alongside you? That’s the optimal situation. That’s when you really know you’ve really created this empowered, highly effective organization that’s reaching out across the functions. So that’s the ideal of where you want to get to. But I’ve definitely come into organizations having one billing person, and I’m like, “This clearly isn’t going to be enough for a company to go from $20 million to $100 million. We have to [inaudible 00:16:24] quickly.” I think that I definitely have been in my own shoes of building the parachute as you’re flying through the sky.

Chris Ortega (16:34):

I love it, and that push and pull mentality. And I think the reason why this topic’s so important is because this is challenging a different muscle for the CFO. We’re talking about connecting with people, we’re talking about communication, we’re talking about a lot of these soft skills that are really the game changers for CFOs of the future. When we talk about that new competitive advantage, which is the topic of this conversation, the competitive advantage used to be, we learned this in business school, or the competitive advantage, you got first mover advantage, you got economics of scale, you got all these different economic theory competitive advantages.


But one thing that we’re seeing is, the talent wars have shown us, the people that are able to retain the talent… And not just local talent. I think the pandemic has opened up this global access to talent. And organizations that are able to harness that talent, push them in the right direction, have them alongside you, be great communicators, have those nice, smart doers, that’s literally one of the new competitive advantages that CFOs can have. And one of the things that helps draw us to the organization is, now we’re not just a supportive cost function to the organization. We’re actually providing tremendous value. And to me, that is that new frontier. And the CFO has the direct line of sight to be able to drive [inaudible 00:18:02] in that legacy, which is to me super exciting to be in right now.

Wendy Fraulo (18:06):

Yeah. No, Chris, so a couple things that I was just thinking of when you were speaking. One is, people want a strategic CFO. So a CFO that’s going to come in and be a rear view mirror CFO is not going to be successful for a lot of organization needs, number one. Number two, culture is a competitive advantage. And going back…

Chris Ortega (18:30):

Oh, love it. I love it.

Wendy Fraulo (18:31):

Oh no, [inaudible 00:18:32] yeah. So when you think about the pyramid that I was just talking about when we first started, people being that foundation of that high growth company, this is where culture and values are so critically important. And so to your point about retention or hiring, people are asking for, what else is the company doing that helps drive their want to be part of that organization? So culture is competitive advantage, retaining that high quality employee is so critical.


But the other side is, CFOs need to be strategic. What that really means is, I think that a lot of CFOs spend a lot of time thinking about data integrity, how all the systems throughout the payment organization work, and you can’t just be good at debits and credits. Their finance organization can’t be about putting together an audit report. That’s table stakes. What we really need to be thinking [inaudible 00:19:33] we need to be really is connecting data for the other business leaders to make business decisions to run fast. That’s really… When people start talking about a strategic finance organization, it’s about identifying the data connectors to say go/no-go.


And I think that is something that’s new in the last five years. People aren’t using these words. People aren’t saying, “I need a CFO that can connect data to help me make better business decisions and create a high functioning finance organization, so that they can sit amongst the executive team, versus helping their own finance organization be successful.” What you’re talking about is making sure the finance organization can be highly effective on their own, so that the CFO can be sitting in the executive [inaudible 00:20:33] leader B, I love my team.


So, I’m just going to say, it’s funny. I love finance. I love creating my controllership teams. I love creating my FP&A team. I love my biz dev teams, my M&A teams. I love accounting. I’m a total dork. I love it. But my best contribution to our organization is really running alongside my executive team. Think of this as where CFOs, if you’re spending too much time within your finance organization, you have to pause and say, “Have I empowered my team enough? Do I have a highly effective finance organization that can run alongside me?” But I think it’s the expectation today that CFOs are going to be sitting more with the president, the CEOs, the chief revenue officer, rather than spending time with the controller, the VP of finance, the director of FP&A. That to me is a mind shift that I think CFOs need to really start thinking how they change their approach to their organization.

Chris Ortega (21:43):

Wendy, I love it, man. I’m sitting here and I’m like, this is such… All those CFOs, VPs of finance, and finance professionals listening to this, this is absolute gold. This is absolute great wisdom. And the first thing I love that you talked about was, we got to be strategic, but I think one of the things that a lot of CFOs… And me leading Fresh FP&A, when we come in and we are that strategic level CFO to organizations, we come in, a lot of times I get prospects that come to me, Wendy, and they’re like, “Yeah, Chris, we hired that fractional CFO firm, but they’re really just controllers.” And I’m like, I hear that… In so many opportunities and new clients that we brought on, just coming outside of Q1 and last year, there’s so many of that… I’m starting to see that as a symptom, where we thought we hired the strategic level finance person, but really they’re just a controller that’s upselling CFO services.


And I think that legacy needs to be broke, because traditionally, the CFO was the chief financial officer, that has been… We’re the risk people, we’re the audit compliant people, we make sure taxes are good, we make sure the month end close is solid, we do the budget, the variance analysis. We have a lot of that legacy. But when we think about, and when I think about the CFO of the future, it’s the chief future officer. That’s the CFO of the future. How are you [inaudible 00:23:10] you talked about, how are you looking at the data inside the business, not just in the finance organization? How are you looking at sales data? How are you looking at marketing data? How are you looking at HR data? How are you looking at operational data, to help empower those teams? That’s that future casting.


And for us, that to me starts at, what’s the vision? What’s the strategy? What’s the tactics? What’s the metrics? What’s the milestones? What’s the execution plans? It’s that kind of framework that you got to go 10,000 feet all the way down to identify, what are the individual plans that we need to drive that are tying back to our vision? And I think so many… And I think a lot of it too, to those CFOs, it comes from having comfort. You just talked about it. I started in accounting, I’m an accounting nerd, I’m a finance junkie. I’m just a nerd when it comes to finance, and I love it. But I think that a lot of CFOs, they get in that comfort level because they’re comfortable in the accounting, they’re comfortable in the finance, they’re comfortable in the FP&A, they’re comfortable in the tax. Getting in the business, going to go sit down with sales, going to go sit down with an extroverted marketing person and be like… I don’t know. That makes me feel uncomfortable. That’s exactly what you need to do. That’s that value proposition, to have your team run alongside you.


And it gets back down to what we talked about earlier in creating that entrepreneurial gap, right. Yes, CFOs, you have the same gap too. You have ways that you can develop, that you can challenge yourself, that you can have your baseline, and what your gap is going to be, and how you can fill those. And the biggest opportunity you have is inside the business that you’re working in. Everything we’re talking about, Wendy, no CPA exam. I didn’t learn this in MBA class. I didn’t go to a conference and figure this out. I had to do it inside of roles. I had to work with clients and implement these strategies. I think to me that’s so important, is you have a real life opportunity now to start developing this outlook, developing this mindset, and really upskilling the skillsets that businesses demand out of finance for the future.

Wendy Fraulo (25:14):

Yeah. And Chris, so going back to your point about being vulnerable, I have made so many mistakes. I’ve definitely spent so way too much time in my leader B mode. These perspectives are from good decisions and bad decisions. And I think that for the more junior people that are listening to this podcast, I think that my strong recommendation is, having an accounting base and having a finance base can give you the opportunity to go in so many different directions. Decide how you want to show up to opportunities, and take it in the directions you want to take it. But having accounting and finance as a base, you can always come back to the base and take another offshoot. So take chances, be opportunistic with opportunities, and be okay with making mistakes and learning from them. So that’s where my perspective comes from a lot of times.


The other thing that didn’t talk about, and I hope we have a little bit of time, is as you come into organizations, and this is for the CFOs that are listening, if you came into an organization that had more bookkeepers than accountants and they grow into accountants, it is so important to realign compensation for the jobs people are doing and for that growth [inaudible 00:26:45] talk about the entrepreneurial gap, it’s so important to go back and say, “This person was initially hired to be an AP person or a collections manager, and now they’re a senior accountant, or they’re really growing into this other role.”


It’s important for especially startups, where a person may be hired in at one equity structure, one compensation structure, and now they’re functioning at a different structure. It’s really important to pause at least once a year at the performance [inaudible 00:27:18] time and say, “Have I been promoting a person so much that, if I was going to hire them today, they would be getting equity, they would be getting a different bonus structure?” And realign, because the people who stay with an organization continue to show [inaudible 00:27:37]. Go back and make sure you’re compensating them equitably through that process. And I think that sometimes organizations don’t think about that, and then those people leave. That’s also critically important, is the compensation and the equitable [inaudible 00:27:53] of developing teams and empowering teams, and them running alongside you. It’s not something we would talk about, but I definitely want to make sure I mentioned.

Chris Ortega (28:03):

Most definitely. And let’s dive into that, because I think that’s such a critical point. It gets right to empowering people, and empowering people is not just around the task and responsibilities that they’re doing. It’s about the value that they’re bringing. When a person feels valued, they’re going to work harder. When I had a team and they feel valued, they feel challenged, they feel supported, they feel equipped with the training and resources that they need, you’re going to have a superstar. And it gets back to your point. It gets back to your point, CFOs listening, stop the crazy with not getting your people and right-sizing that equity piece of it, because that’s important.


I remember in the past, we had alcohol, we had a keg in the office, and we had… None of that stuff matters. People care about now, how are you helping serve my community? How are we making sure we have equitable pay that is consistent? And you look at one of the things that are all across business, the gender gap when it comes to equitable pay. That is something crazy. And CFOs, we need to stop that crazy. If you’ve got that bookkeeper that came in… And I’ve had a person on my team that I’ve hired, she never even had an accounting background. I remember, and I’ll share this story with everybody, I remember her interviewing, and she was so timid, because we were this high growth software company. She heard about me through a friend of hers, they were like, “Yeah, Chris is awesome. He’s a great leader.” The company I was working at, we won best places to work. So she came in very concerned. She was like, “I don’t think I’m qualified for this.”


And I remember having a conversation with her and I had to… I was like, “No, you’re valuable. You’ve got the skill sets, you’ve got the experience that we need.” And when it came down to that offer time, I’ll never forget this, and she’s coming from a bookkeeping company, and we were introducing her as a staff account, which is a big step up from a bookkeeper to a staff account, her role and responsibilities. And I remember during the interview process, and when we came down to the offer, she was like, “I’ll just be happy with what I was making at the other company.” And I was like, “No.”


And I remember, and I went back to HR, and I’ll never forget this conversation, Wendy. I’ll never forget it. I sat back down and I said, “Here’s what she wants. Here’s what she’s comfortable doing. Here’s the midpoint. And based on my assessment of her experience and skills and impact that she’s going to have at the team, she needs to be on the higher end of this range.” And we’re talking about almost doubling the salary that she had before.

Wendy Fraulo (30:56):

That’s amazing.

Chris Ortega (30:57):

And HR was sitting across and she was like, “Chris, yeah, but what about these things?” I was like, “Those things don’t matter. I guarantee you she’s got the skill sets, she’s got the core competencies that we need, and I have no doubt in my mind that she’s going to do a tremendous job with the mentorship in our organization that we need to support her. She’s going to be a superstar.”


And I’ll never forget going back to the candidate, I went back to her and I said, “We want to extend the offer to you. And unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get what you needed.” And I phrased it that way. And then she looked at it, she was like, “Oh my god, Chris. Is this right? Did you make a error?” I was like, “No, this is the value. This is the organization that you’re coming into. This is what’s important for us as a team. This is a similar, comparable level, and you’re at the higher end of the range.” And the look on her face was like [inaudible 00:31:56].

Wendy Fraulo (31:55):

It’s life-changing.

Chris Ortega (31:58):

It changed it right at that moment. And for me as a leader, this is really important for CFOs, I made a financial decision that was in the betterment of that person, and it was the right decision. That’s the most important thing, is it was the right decision to make in that situation. And for me, I look back at… And she’s an absolute… From that, working at our team to… She has in entirely scaled her entire career. She’s a director of accounting now, and she’s doing great stuff, and she’s closed out her education in college, and now she’s going after her CPA, and I have regular conversations with her.


And it talks about that point that you just mentioned. You as a CFO, you have to understand that it’s about the people, man. And sometimes that decision… If you’re not going to go to bat for your people, if you’re not going to lay down your shield or go to bat to get that extra bonus for your team, or get that investment in that professional development, you’ve got to do that. That’s how you empower. That’s how you talk the talk and walk the walk. And to your point that you mentioned, we got to stop the crazy when it comes to that pay gap and gender inequality, when it comes to compensation.

Wendy Fraulo (33:15):

Yeah. And [inaudible 00:33:17] taking it one step further, where we started the conversation, how can empowering employees create a more effective, efficient, higher growth, higher profitability type company? All these things definitely improve the bottom line, maybe not in year one, but over the course of a high growth company, all these things will drive innovation, conversations, a better culture, or you’re really enhancing that culture within that organization. These financial decisions, and they are decisions, because sometimes you can’t make all of them, ultimately are for the benefit to be a higher growth company through innovation and revenue growth and profitability. Yes, it’s to build a great team, but it’s with a longer vision in mind.

Chris Ortega (34:11):

Definitely. Definitely. And I think one last point on that, the biggest…. As CFOs, we always talk about ROI. We’re looking at a return on an investment. We’re looking at a return on investment, like projects we’re looking at, initiatives we’re trying to do. But I think one of the biggest returns of investments that CFOs need to be focused on is that return of investment into people. That’s what we talked about. That is one of the… And not just… I take the business hat off, Wendy, because it’s not just business. Investing in your team, that’s the ROI of that person’s life. That decision that I made, or having a person come with me to come to a conference, or getting our business to support somebody to pay for their CPA exam, these are things that you have as a CFO that is definitely going to have a ROI impact on your business, but most importantly, to that teammate, to that person’s life. You’re going to add so much ROI to that person’s life.


And at the end of the day, as we look at the quantifiable measures of business ROI, we also need to take into account those qualitative factors that are probably even more impactful from the ROI perspective, that you can’t tie to a balance sheet, that you can’t tie to an income statement, that you can’t tie to a statement of cash flow. But that is, from what we talked about, that mindset skillset shift that you need to balance, that push and pull that you talked about earlier, Wendy.


Hey, I love this conversation. One last question I have for you that we ask all of our guests, and I’m looking to get your insights on. What’s your number one hot finance trend and why?

Wendy Fraulo (35:57):

Oh, gosh. I will say right now, this is probably not a top finance trend, but I’ve actually been going back to basics. I’ve been totally going back to basics. I’ve resubscribed to a lot of business magazines that I haven’t read in years, and I’m just trying to just read more. So it’s not hot or trendy, but I’m trying to read more, rather than get information through sites that I’m on all the time. So I guess that’s a long way of me saying I’m trying to get different insight and different perspectives. And I think that’s important for everybody to be successful in their career, is always strive for a different perspective than the one you’re naturally getting.

Chris Ortega (36:48):

Love it. Love it. That’s a hot trend, man. Getting back to the basics, building that back… We talked about it earlier, building that foundation. Wendy, thank you so much for your time. If people want to learn more about you, connect with you, where can they find you? Where can they learn more about what you’re doing and how you’re helping finance teams and helping finance organizations?

Wendy Fraulo (37:07):

Yeah. So I’m on LinkedIn, Wendy Fraulo. I’m pretty easy to find. I also have my website, Abingdon Square Advisors, and so my information’s there, but I would definitely say I’m on LinkedIn all the time. I think it’s important to be there. So, easy to find me.

Chris Ortega (37:22):

Awesome. Hey, Wendy, thank you so much for your time. I’ve enjoyed this conversation. I was looking back through my notes, taking so many different notes. Thank you so much. And thank you everybody for listening to another CFO Trends. Thank you so much.

Wendy Fraulo (37:33):

Thanks, Chris.

Chris Ortega (37:34):

Thank you for listening in. Join us for our next episode, where I’ll be talking with Bryan Lapidus, director of FP&A Practice at the Association for Finance Professionals, as we talk about FP&A career secrets, what the pros wish they would have known sooner.

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