“Forecasting, as a finance person, your wholly reliant on other people in the business to give you a perspective on how the business is trading,” according to the QuarterOne founder.
This reality feeds directly into his key KPI, which is more of a non-financial metric. "It probably explains more why I transitioned out of a CFO role," Foulkes said.
His KPI is quite meta: do the account management know their own client’s KPIs for the year. "When doing annual budget/target setting I used to get the account management team to present the strategy for the year from their customers’ perspective, alongside their own budget figures.
A frequent issue for finance leaders is over-optimism from their commercial teams. Pipelines are inflated and as a result budgets and forecasts are skewed. The presentations from account management helped Foulkes separate fact from fiction. "It's the easiest way to tell if the account management team’s budget is reliable. If they don’t know their clients' plans there is a reasonable chance the budget figures are just vapour.
"I would ask the accounts team to provide an overview of their client’s own goals for each quarter of the year and how we would address them."