Updated: December 20, 2023 |

New year, new plan: mapping your 2024 finance strategy

By

Alyssa DiSabito
New year, new plan: mapping your 2024 finance strategy

The new year is just around the corner, and you know what that means: it’s time to start planning your finance strategy.

Ryan Fanter, VP of Strategic Finance at Figment, and Julia Coto, CFO at ChartSpan Medical Technologies, recently joined Cube’s Jim Bullis to discuss this very topic in a virtual masterclass called New year, new plan: mapping your 2024 finance strategy.

Together, they drew from their combined 20+ years of finance experience to share expert tactics for tackling finance’s toughest challenges—from year-end closing and reporting to forecasting for the future—leading up to the new year.

Check out highlights from the webinar below.

Alyssa DiSabito

Alyssa DiSabito

Content Marketing Manager, Cube Software

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Q&A: Planning with the pros

The weeks leading up to the new year can be especially stressful for finance leaders.

Not only are you scrambling to wrap up the current fiscal year, but you’re tasked with developing a foolproof plan to help you find success in the next one. With only so much time in the day, how can you make sure you’re doing both effectively?

Thankfully, Ryan and Julia both have years of experience under their belts—and they were willing to share their tried-and-true tactics for building and implementing a successful financial plan.

Let's check out some of the exclusive planning tips they shared in this webinar Q&A:

1. Tell us about your approach to year-end closing. What strategies do you use to guarantee accurate and complete reports?

Ryan emphasizes the importance of thoroughness and technology:

"Our year-end close is similar to our monthly and quarterly processes, but it involves more time-consuming reconciliations to ensure accurate valuations. We review the entire year to make sure we haven't missed anything. Having our ERP system and Cube for flux analysis is extremely helpful—the FP&A team can start assembling detailed reporting packages and KPIs even before the close is finalized."

Julia focuses on proactive measures and efficient reconciliation:

"Towards the end of December, we remind budget holders to submit any reimbursements or last-minute bills. Our small team dedicates more time to balance sheet reconciliations during this period, focusing on clearing up suspense accounts. We use preset reports set up through Cube for actual versus budget reviews. Once closed, the year-end package is refreshed and ends up being quite similar to our regular month-end reports."

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2. How do you handle potential conflicts between short-term financial targets and long-term strategic objectives?

Ryan emphasizes the importance of collaborative decision-making:

"Balancing investments across different groups is always a challenge. The key to this process is understanding the end goal and what options are available. Final decisions on investments are made through discussions with the executive team and the board. This helps determine how strict or flexible we are with short-term investments, while keeping everyone focused on a 12-month plan."

Julia highlights the importance of flexibility in budgeting:

"I remind budget holders that while we have a set budget, it's contingent on meeting certain targets. If sales aren't hitting their marks or implementations are lagging, then we need to adjust our expenses. Just because something is in the budget doesn't mean to go ahead and spend it; these are more guidelines than fixed rules. We regularly review the budget, and if new needs arise, we discuss how to integrate them with our current financial situation."

3. What methods do you use to stay updated on market trends, and how do these trends typically impact your financial strategies?

Ryan says it's important to leverage external insights:

"The key is to actively engage with the information put out by capital allocators and industry experts, especially in the startup ecosystem. This information, combined with other sources, helps in making informed decisions and adjusting financial strategies accordingly."

Julia says the ability to quickly adapt to sudden changes, such as those brought on by the pandemic, is highly beneficial:

"At my last company we were refinancing, then COVID hit. And then all the term sheets and everything we had in place all of a sudden were completely off the table. Everything had to revert back to where we were. And so that obviously impacted our financials and what we were looking to get from financing. And so we had to readjust our expectations on the cost, the investment, and the sales projection. Having multiple scenarios ready—a range with an upper and lower limit, and flexibility within that range—is helpful when an unexpected market change comes through."

4. How has technology improved the way you work and helped you maintain alignment?

Ryan focuses on the importance of familiarity and ease of use:

"I’ve always been wary of tools that try to pull us entirely away from Excel because everyone needs to cut numbers differently, so Cube’s compatibility with Excel is a huge plus. It reduces the learning curve for anyone new to the tool, be it someone from accounting, a new hire, or a department leader. It makes data manipulation and analysis more accessible, which has been incredibly beneficial for our team."

Julia, on the other hand, emphasizes FP&A software's role in improving efficiency for smaller teams:

"Cube has been a lifesaver for me. Our finance team is small—it's just me, an AR person, and an AP payroll manager. Initially, we were using QuickBooks, and I thought moving to NetSuite was essential. But implementing NetSuite is a complex process, and Cube offered a more efficient alternative. I can perform tasks I used to do in NetSuite but much more quickly and with greater flexibility. I've also been training my budget holders to use Cube so they can directly access and pull information about actuals versus budget."

Want more expert insights?

There's more where that came from. Check out the full webinar for a deeper look into:

  • Proven strategies for planning success
  • Tips for navigating market trends
  • Ways to leverage FP&A technology to streamline workflows

…and so much more.

➡️ Click here to view and download the full, on-demand webinar. ⬅️