Managing Partner – Financial Systems and Reporting
"Modernizing complex financial processes using technology to create operational efficiencies and maximize growth."
Chris is a Consulting CFO who works with a variety of high-tech and manufacturing clients and their staff to streamline financial operations and enable efficient planning and reporting. He designs and implements strategic Enterprise Reporting and Planning (ERP) installations for clients who seek to transition from outdated accounting programs to modern financial systems that support the next stage of growth. He develops programs that automate data records, converting them into information, which through comprehensive reports, managers can use to efficiently and effectively manage their business.
Today, Chris works with businesses that are growing and expanding, such as clients whose operations have become distributed geographically or have spawned multiple lines of business, and thus leadership is shared. While democratization of data and accessibility of that information throughout the organization leads to more information and a sharing of the load, the potential of that information being corrupted by improper standards poses a great risk. These systems, particularly for both high-tech and manufacturing companies, are complicated. Redesign and upgrading of these systems are expensive, and require both forward thinking and tactical capabilities. Having designed and completed a number of ERP implementations, Chris is well versed in the potentials and the pitfalls of such a critical project. Having been both a CPA and an experienced financial planner provides him the necessary skill set to complete a complicated ERP transition and implementation where there is so much at stake.
Chris grew up in California and was well on his way to an exciting career in the US Air Force when a disappointing setback threw him onto a different path. After learning that a technicality was going to ground his air force career, Chris switched gears and enrolled at USC. That experience revealed his tenacity and resilience, an ability to overcome adversity and turn a new situation into gold. He channeled his passion and abilities into a new path, graduating with a degree in Accounting while serving an unprecedented three years as president of his fraternity, and served in other campus organizations. From the outset, Chris sought to make his fraternity the best house on the row. In his senior year, he led his house to receive four top honors including highest grade point average, Song Fest winner, the All Greek Ironman trophy, and the President’s Trophy for overall excellence.
His vision and leadership capabilities caught the attention of influential professors with ties to the business community. Chris landed a coveted internship with Ernst and Ernst his senior year through a referral from his Accounting professor and went to work with the prominent Big 8 firm after graduation. Chris quips that he got the best eight years of experience during the four years that he worked there, consulting with and observing how 50 different companies manage their financial affairs.
Chris was recruited out of E&E to join Memorex in their executive training program. Under the guidance of the Consumer Products Division Finance Manager, who himself became one of the pre-eminent Bay Area CFO’s, Chris served as Financial Planning and Analysis (FP&A) Manager, where he developed his forward-looking analysis capabilities and presentation skills.
With a solid grounding in accounting and finance, it was his 15 year turn as an entrepreneur and partner in a real estate development firm that gave him the perspective and balance needed to eventually consult to mid-size firms and excel in designing and implementing critical systems. As someone who constantly sought new business opportunities, raised capital, secured institutional financing, and stressed about meeting payroll, Chris appreciates what entrepreneurs experience day to day and brings that understanding to his solutions and implementations. Chris spent seven years as Vice President-Finance and Chief Financial Officer of two mid-sized public companies, where timing, adherence to standards, the ability to think strategically, yet operate tactically are critical success factors. In both cases, significant financial irregularities were encountered requiring restatement of previously issued financial statements, and the companies were sold in successful merger and acquisition transactions.
Chris is fluent in Financial Statements and Accounting. He notes, “Accounting is the language of business. Financial statements are the representation of that language. They are used to communicate what is happening.” He is able to communicate at all levels of an organization, both internally and externally, tailoring his presentations to an immediate audience’s needs, speaking to each constituency in the language it understands. His experience as a CPA, coupled with his forward-looking planning capabilities and immersion into the myriad technological solutions creates a unique role for him as consulting CFO. He sees the vision and can apply it. He has clear grounding about how things work in the trenches and the about the impact on the staff completing the tasks while also understanding management’s needs to look ahead and plan for growth. It is a rare combination for a CFO.
The Issue – October 2020 In a lighthearted twist, Partners Chris Chillingworth and Michaele James put the subject matter in a court-room context, then act as skilled prosecutors advocating the use of various technologies to achieve what NetSuite calls, “the single point of truth” in a financial accounting system. Use of the technologies supports the timeliness, accuracy, and context necessary in financial data in order for the user to respond to opportunities in the present and plan for the future with full knowledge of his or her current situation. Even if you are not planning a full-fledged ERP implementation in the near future, you will find this Newsletter a valuable resource to keep handy, and acquaint you with technologies you can obtain today that will enhance your existing financial reporting infrastructure.
The Issue – January 2019 In this issue, one of our Strategic Partners, Thomas Mele from the Mele Group, and Chris Chillingworth discuss Exit Strategies for Small and Medium Enterprises. Even if you own a business, but don’t plan on selling or divesting in the near term, they layout various issues you should consider even 3-to-5 years in advance.