Recommended Reading: Top Stories of 2003

Judging by the 100 articles your colleagues and competitors asked for most often during 2003, career advancement, accounting missteps, regulatory c... StaffJanuary 4, 2004

“Recommended Reading” is a resource for financial executives, chosen by financial executives. The list below features the 100 articles that were most in demand by our readers during 2003 — original articles from, stories drawn from the pages of CFO magazine, as well as articles from CFO Europe,CFO Asia, and others.

Our weekly list of “Recommended Reading” will return on January 12.

  1. You’re Not CFO Material

    Wondering whether you have what it takes? Here are ten signs that you’re never going to make it to the big chair.

  2. What You Don’t Know about Sarbanes-Oxley

    Snares, pitfalls, and trapdoors: Sarbanes-Oxley is full of surprises. These five top the list.

  3. You’ve Got a Great Employer

    How do you know if you’re working for the right company? Here are ten markers that all point to the same thing: a great workplace for finance managers.

  4. Your Finance Department Is Second-Rate

    Not certain how your finance department stacks up? Here are ten markers of mediocrity.

  5. You Shouldn’t Take the Job

    Thinking about accepting that offer? Here are ten signs you’d be better off taking a pass.

  6. The Six Cardinal Rules of Resume Writing

    Experts say put a little more vitae into your curriculum vitae.

  7. You’ve Got a First-Rate Finance Department

    The hallmarks of a great workplace for finance professionals aren’t necessarily what you’d think.

  8. Sticker Shock

    When Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, it didn’t worry about how much it would cost companies. Today, CFOs are totting up the compliance bill — and they don’t like what they see.

  9. Favorite Questions of Executive Recruiters

    Helpful hints for hitting a curveball out of the park.

  10. Are Your Interview Skills in Tune with the Times?

    Guidelines to help you prepare for a major shift in the interviewing process.

  11. How Audits Must Change

    Auditors face more pressure to find fraud.

  12. The New Rules of Engagement

    With the passing of Sarbanes-Oxley — and the advent of the PCAOB — audits may never be the same again.

  13. How Following Orders Can Harm Your Career

    Asked by her bosses to make false accounting entries, a midlevel accountant balked, then caved. Her solid career took a sudden turn in a very sorry direction.

  14. You’re Getting Jobbed by Your Search Firm

    Employees have grown increasingly dependent on search firms to fill managerial posts. But not all search firms are up to the task.

  15. The Wrong Stuff

    Treasurers and controllers often get passed over when their employers are looking for new CFOs. The trend isn’t likely to change soon.

  16. Proceed with Caution

    Economist Philip Arestis warns that recent signs of revival are largely illusory.

  1. Questions of Value

    Is fair-value accounting the best way to measure a company? The debate heats up.

  2. Sarboxing

    CFOs say complying with Sect. 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley is a real tussle. Software may help with the struggle.

  3. MVPs of MVA

    Which companies created the most wealth for shareholders last year? Enter MVA — or market value added.

  4. What Works: Building a Strong Finance Team

    How do you build a strong finance department? Motivate, stimulate, and innovate.

  5. Command and Controllers

    Sarbanes-Oxley may bring new risks to the CFO’s office, but it’s raising the profile of the once-faceless company controller.

  6. Whistle-Blower Woes

    Many companies think the whistle-blower provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley will spark nuisance suits by disgruntled employees. The truth is far more complex.

  7. CFOs: Risk Magnets

    New certification and internal control requirements are heaping new hazards on finance chiefs.

  8. Keys to Successful BPO Relationships

    Outsourcing business processes hits much closer to home than simply outsourcing IT. Here’s how some executives balance the risks and rewards.

  9. How to Run a Company Well

    Ten commandments for successful leaders.

  10. The Second Six: Ready to Step Up?

    The largest of the Group B accounting firms are facing new challenges and enjoying new opportunities.

  11. Adelphia Comes Clean

    Can Vanessa Wittman help bring scandal-wracked Adelphia out of bankruptcy — and back into investors’ good graces?

  12. The China Syndrome

    U.S. companies are beginning to outsource technology research and development to India and China. Will a meltdown in tech jobs follow?

  13. Spreadsheets Forever

    On the eve of its silver anniversary, the electronic spreadsheet remains golden. Co-creator Dan Bricklin explains why.

  14. Career Changers Consider a B-School Injection

    Take one or two years off to earn an M.B.A., and changing professions may not be too difficult.

  15. Precious Resources

    Technology is already reshaping the human-resources function, mostly through cost-cutting. Some say it can do more.

  16. Bonus Babies: The Best-Paid CFOs

    The finance chiefs at Bank of America, Bear Stearns, and John Hancock scored high in this year’s survey of best-paid CFOs. Their income from cashing in stock options? Zero.

  17. Everything Must Go: Business Process Outsourcing

    Eager to focus on the things they do best, companies have turned to business process outsourcers for virtually everything else.

  1. Rolling Budgets, with a Twist

    A full-blown rolling budget isn’t practical at many companies. But some finance executives have found that a scaled-back approach suits them just fine.

  2. Off the Balance Sheet, in a Nutshell

    What a difference a few words can make, especially when those words change financial reporting requirements.

  3. Negotiating Effectively When You Feel Outgunned

    Executives often feel overwhelmed by an employer’s perceived power during job-offer negotiations. But by stressing the long-term benefits of the marriage over the wedding, you can maintain parity and keep the interaction positive.

  4. Where Credit Is Due

    A new study of the largest issuers of corporate debt shows that recent gains in creditworthiness are more fragile than you think.

  5. Applying a Little Business Intelligence

    ”All things to all companies” isn’t always the way to go. Here’s how Staples, Trimac, and Deltek applied business intelligence software exactly where it was needed.

  6. How to Get Employers to Read Your Resume

    The secret to making a C.V. stand out in a crowd? Hook the reader early — and trumpet results.

  7. Who Rules Accounting?

    Congress muscles in on FASB — again.

  8. Grinding Away on ROI

    Recipes for IT success from three companies that go well beyond mere numbers-crunching.

  9. Two Weeks in January

    The SEC put much of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act into effect by passing a slew of new rules. Here’s what was proposed and what was disposed.

  10. Under One Roof

    Rather than invest in technology, more companies are outsourcing HR — sometimes with one provider.

  11. Truth and Consequences

    Why tough ”360” reviews and employee ranking are gaining fans.

  12. Corrective Lenses

    Some experts contend that options-pricing models give a better view of cost of capital than CAPM.

  13. Better Options

    Disillusioned investors are demanding stronger links between executive pay and long-term performance.

  14. All in the Grooming

    GE and American Express have developed fast-track programs for the top talent in their finance teams. But is the star system the best approach?

  15. Tuning In to Cash Flow

    We examined the operating cash flow of the S&P 100. Our findings? Surprisingly, there’s reason to be optimistic about America’s blue chips.

  16. We Can Work It Out

    Some companies have learned how to reduce working capital without punishing customers or suppliers. But the alternatives aren’t totally pain-free.

  17. Dial ”M” for Malfeasance

    New regulations will require companies to put in complaint systems for employees. But CFOs say setting up good lines of communication can be a real pain.

  1. Drowning in Data

    A flood of corporate data, intensified by Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, threatens to overwhelm business managers.

  2. How to Improve Performance Management

    Selecting the proper technology is a start — but for a successful implementation, don’t ignore these four important steps.

  3. Behind the Music

    MTV’s explosive growth prompts a substantial financial reengineering effort, one that even the most buttoned-down companies can learn from.

  4. Return of the Bean Counters

    With a welter of new reporting requirements coming, controller skills are suddenly a hot commodity.

  5. What Goes Around

    Customer financing seemed like a smart move when times were good. Now, it’s wreaking havoc on corporate balance sheets.

  6. IT Directions 2.0

    Our annual survey of senior finance executives finds them bullish on the value of IT and prepared to raise budgets accordingly.

  7. Eleven Commandments for Smart Negotiating

    Little negotiating power in a tight job market? Maybe, but there’s always some degree of wiggle room. Here’s some tips that will help you get a better deal.

  8. Mind the Gap

    A new study of operating cash flow and earnings for the 87 nonfinancial companies in the Standard and Poor’s 100 suggests that the recent upturn in corporate profits may not be sustainable.

  9. Under Pressure

    Sarbox is just one of many new regulatory requirements companies face. Can IT help?

  10. Booby Trap in Aisle Eight

    Regulatory interest in vendor allowances has put CFOs on high alert.

  11. Barely Working: The 2003 Working Capital Survey

    Companies squeezed more cash from their businesses this year — but not much. Was it the economy, or too much focus on Sarbanes-Oxley compliance?

  12. What CFOs Learn from the Factory Floor

    The latest industrial revolution isn’t emerging on the assembly line — it’s focusing on the bottom line. But the long-term gains don’t come without some short-term strains.

  13. See It Now

    New budgeting-and-planning software offers increasingly sophisticated visual aids: dashboards and scorecards.

  14. Will Real Options Take Root?

    Why companies have been slow to adopt the valuation technique.

  15. False Security?

    Corporate insolvencies are testing whether securitization is a stable structure or a flimsy facade.

  16. Blaming ERP

    Once again, problematic ERP installations are making headlines. It’s time to ask, How much of the problem is really the software?

  17. Your Supply Chain Has a Weak Link

    A strong SCM system is essential to a strong bottom line. Here are ten signs that some part of your supply chain isn’t pulling its weight.

  1. Back on Course

    Whether your career seems to have gone adrift, or whether you’ve run afoul of some reputational mishap, here’s how you can set your ship in order.

  2. A More Perfect Union?

    IT ”governance” may enable companies to drive technology strategy, not just steer it.

  3. Radio Flier

    Wal-Mart presents its vendors with an offer they can’t refuse.

  4. Goodwill to All Pieces

    Are companies properly valuing and assigning acquired intangibles to business units?

  5. Who Will Audit the Auditors?

    When your accounting firm sets up software to help monitor your internal controls, are you implementing solutions — or risk?

  6. Why Oracle Spammed PeopleSoft

    What’s behind the unsolicited bid for PeopleSoft — and what the hostility means for the ERP industry.

  7. Troubled Times at the AICPA

    Questionable moves, plus the rise of the PCAOB, have some wondering if the institute needs a new direction — and a new leader.

  8. The Big Squeeze: Our Ninth Annual Cost Management Survey

    Companies have wrung out plenty of costs. But it will take time to see the full impact.

  9. Of Men and Mice: An ERP Case Study

    CFO Lee Wilbur explains how Jackson Laboratory is dealing with the challenges of installing its new ERP system.

  10. Holes in the Net?

    Insurers’ woes are mounting — and your company’s coverage may be at risk.

  11. Does Dell Stack Up?

    The company that triumphed by selling ”good enough” technology wants to challenge IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Is it good enough?

  12. Work in Progress

    As mentoring and ethics training evolve, finance learns how to boost team spirit.

  13. Facing the Bear

    CFO magazine’s 2000 compensation survey reveals that stock options are under scrutiny, and that companies are once again seeking the elusive link between pay and performance.

  14. What’s Your IT IQ?

    CFOs who don’t understand technology may want to consider another career.

  15. Fear Factor

    Sarbanes-Oxley offers one more reason to tackle enterprise risk management.

  16. Fraud Squad

    Federal investigators are on a crusade to elevate corporate misdeeds to criminal offenses.

  17. Quantum Loop

    ”Performance” is its middle name — can new software help companies link past, present, and future?

  18. Executive Charisma: Can It Be Learned?

    Ask for adjectives describing a finance chief, and ”charismatic” doesn’t normally leap to mind.

  1. Are These What You Call Worst Practices?

    Survey finds monthly close still a five-day deal for most; lots of data correction going on, too. Elsewhere: Barrick promotes former CFO to CEO, Vail Resorts being probed, and report says Enron creditors could get back as much as $5 billion.

  2. Retirement Rage

    Why do employees file lawsuits over their 401(k) plans? Extended blackout periods, perceived conflicts of interest — or maybe they’re just mad at the markets. Here’s how to keep your company in the clear.

  3. Second Acts

    After bankruptcy, companies often teeter between encore and final curtain call.

  4. Funding Fun House

    Detractors say current accounting lets companies distort the picture they present of pension plan performance.

  5. Too Few Auditors to Go Around?

    U.S. General Accounting Office looks into consolidation and competition among public accounting firms. Also: Execs unimpressed with Sarbanes-Oxley; resignations at Impath amid accounting probe; SEC settles with former Andersen partner; and more.

  6. Off-Balance-Sheet Deals: C’est la Vie?

    In the eyes of the investing public, off-balance-sheet financing has fallen into disgrace. Will it deserve another look after the SEC and FASB have their say?

  7. Internal Controls

    In a world gone Sarbanes-Oxley, have finance and IT found common ground?

  8. HRAs: The Next Wave?

    Some employers see health reimbursement accounts as a cheaper alternative to HMOs.

  9. New SEC Rules Right On Time

    The SEC pushed through new rules to meet the Sarbanes-Oxley deadline; FASB added some guidance of its own. For the rulemakers, it’s a case of ”give a little, get a little.”

  10. Return of the Company Store

    How can companies rein in escalating benefits costs? Get in on the action.

  11. ROI: Results Often Immeasurable?

    Despite a torrent of interest in ROI calculations, truly workable solutions are just beginning to emerge.

  12. Bitter Medicine

    Small companies will be forced to make tough decisions if they are to survive another round of health-care cost increases.

  13. PCAOB Airs Proposal for Sarbox Sec. 404

    New standard would provide guidelines for audits of internal control over financial reporting. Also: SEC proposes new proxy rules; Coke settles with whistle-blower; who deserves to go to jail the most?; and more.

  14. PCAOB Starts Off with a Bang

    The new accounting watchdog may consider banning audit firms from providing tax work to clients. Plus: bad assumptions about pension fund returns, Peregrine’s ex-CFO pleads guilty to fraud, and IRS extends guidance deadline.

  15. IT Budgets and ROI

    Purse strings are loosening ever so slightly, but that won’t slow the quest for better metrics.

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