Recommended Reading: Top Stories of 2004

Here's our list of the 100 articles that your colleagues and competitors asked for most often last year. StaffJanuary 10, 2005

“Recommended Reading” is a resource for financial executives, chosen by financial executives. The list below features the articles that were most in demand by our readers in 2004 — original articles from, stories drawn from the pages of CFO magazine, and articles from CFO Europe,CFO Asia, CFO Research Services, and our content partners.

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  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. Body-Language Tactics That Sway Interviewers

    Posture, eye contact, and other nonverbal communication can speak volumes about your feelings and attitudes. Here’s how to impress hiring managers with mannerisms that project confidence and enthusiasm.

  3. Sarboxing

    Finance executives continue to grapple with Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley. So far, it’s unclear who’s winning.

  4. Are You the CFO Type?

    For finance executives, a personality assessment can be very revealing about your preferences — and about your opportunities for growth.

  5. Stuck in the SAS 70s

    As Sarbanes-Oxley Section 404 meets up with an obscure auditing standard, many companies are thinking hard about offshoring their business processes.

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

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

  7. Hard Times

    Why finance executives are overworked and under stress.

  8. When Do Companies Outgrow Their Spreadsheets?

    There comes a time at every smaller, growing company when managers perceive a need for more sophisticated software tools than spreadsheet-dependent planning, budgeting, and forecasting.

  9. The Six Cardinal Rules of Resume Writing

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

  10. A Penney Saved

    A deft turnaround buys time, but what’s in store long-term for the venerable retailer?

  11. 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.

  12. Too Much Cash

    Companies are awash in cash. When will they finally start spending it?

  13. Changing Fortunes: The 2004 Compensation Survey

    With stock options tainted, pay packages grow more diverse — and smaller.

  14. A Fine Balance

    CPAs are back in vogue, but don’t forget the MBA. Skills and experience in both accounting and finance are best for a full career.

  15. Extreme Makeover

    How Robert Blakely and an army of accountants turned fraud-ridden WorldCom into squeaky-clean MCI.

  16. Spreadsheet Hell

    CFOs are interested in the many new technologies being pitched to them, but are they really trapped in spreadsheet hell?

  17. Going for Growth

    Finding new sources of revenue is harder than ever. Here’s how to grow without damaging your roots.

  18. Offshoring Goes on the Offensive

    Cost cutting is only the first benefit. Offshore companies can also deliver superior performance, even in highly skilled activities, and a better platform for entering new product markets.

  19. Raising Red Flags

    As they identify control weaknesses, companies find a common one: inadequate finance staffs.

  20. New Terrain

    Post-Enron reforms have made dramatic alterations to the landscape of corporate governance. Boards, their committees, and internal auditors now have greater responsibilities and powers. How will these reforms change the CFO’s job?

  21. NASA, We Have a Problem

    Can Gwendolyn Brown fix the space agency’s chronic financial woes?

  22. Sarbanes-Oxley and Health Plans

    The structure of employee health plans often obscures the view of benefit costs and internal controls that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act demands.

  23. CPA Ascendant

    With accounting savvy more important than ever, is the CPA the new must-have credential for finance execs?

  24. Managing for Improved Corporate Performance

    Generating great performance requires a more dynamic approach to building and adapting a company’s capabilities than merely squeezing its operations.

  25. In the Fast Lane

    Companies are trading in their spreadsheets for swifter, more powerful applications.

  1. See It Now

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

  2. Best Practice Doesn’t Equal Best Strategy

    Benchmarking is an important way to improve operational efficiency, but is not a tool for strategic decision making. When competitors all try to play exactly the same game, declining margins are bound to follow.

  3. Scrubbing the Numbers

    Cleaning up the balance sheet boosts year-end cash flow, but it can leave some messy problems.

  4. Forget Black-Scholes?

    Why the traditional option-pricing model may not be the best way to value employee grants.

  5. The Great Hollowing-out Myth

    Outsourcing to other countries has become a hot political issue in America. Contrary to what John Edwards, John Kerry and George Bush seem to think, it actually sustains American jobs.

  6. The Enforcer

    If audit firms don’t voluntarily improve their processes, PCAOB chairman William McDonough promises he’ll make them.

  7. Stand by Me

    While finance and IT don’t always see eye to eye, many companies have learned how to transform a mere reporting relationship into a true partnership. Could this be the path to genuine alignment?

  8. Less Ado about Options

    An alternative valuation model could dampen the controversy over expensing employee stock options.

  9. The Doubt of the Benefit

    Voluntary benefits may seem like a win-win. Here’s why they could be a lose-lose.

  10. Your Finance Department Is Second-Rate

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

  11. Now Hiring

    Finance departments will add staff for many reasons, but particularly as a preparation for growth.

  12. 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.

  13. Squeeze Play

    Forget steroids. It’s spending that has baseball in a bind.

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

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

  15. So, Why Be Public?

    This is a question more and more companies have been asking. Many of the traditional advantages of being public are no longer valid, and the mounting costs all the more obvious.

  16. Favorite Questions of Executive Recruiters

    Helpful hints for hitting a curveball out of the park.

  17. Pricing New Products

    Companies habitually charge less than they could for new offerings. It’s a terrible habit.

  18. Stingers: The 2004 State Tax Survey

    Tough times can make for tense relations between corporate tax executives and state tax authorities. Our survey suggests that even if economic conditions improve, the stage is set for more contentiousness than ever.

  19. Looking under the Hood

    New attestation standards for internal controls put more power in the hands of auditors.

  20. Fly out of That Pigeonhole

    Don’t stay cooped up in finance. Take a broader view of your company and you’ll have a better opportunity to broaden your career as well.

  21. 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.

  22. Avoiding Decision Traps

    Cognitive biases and mental shortcuts can lead managers into costly errors of judgment.

  23. Your Place or Mine?

    Telecommuting can produce real savings, but employees are now reluctant to cut the cord. Should companies do it for them?

  24. Making It Work

    How to avoid some common offshoring blunders — and what to do when you can’t.

  25. Off the Shelf: The 2004 Working Capital Survey

    Low inventories drove down working capital last year. But will that continue as the economy improves?

  1. How to Outsource Yourself to Your Former Employer

    Longing to join that crowd of free agents, but don’t know where you’d turn to find that crucial first client? Take a look around your office. Tip number 1: Don’t be overly grateful to your boss.

  2. Offshoring by the Numbers

    Results of our survey of 275 finance executives at a broad range of companies.

  3. Amazon Finally Clicks

    Ten years old and profitable at last, it offers a textbook lesson on how to be both focused and flexible.

  4. SEC Staff Mulls Compliance Delays

    Commission’s chief accountant says accounting reform has overloaded auditors and corporate clients.

  5. 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.

  6. How to Run a Company Well

    Ten commandments for successful leaders.

  7. You Bought It, Now Audit

    Your technology infrastructure can be audited — and probably should be.

  8. New Carrots, Old Yardsticks?

    Cash is back in incentive compensation, but companies are struggling to set the right performance targets.

  9. Big Four Losing Ground to Smaller Firms

    Public companies left the largest auditors in droves last year in favor of smaller firms.

  10. They Might Be Giants

    It’s been nearly two years since Arthur Andersen went under and Sarbanes-Oxley was passed. Have the Big Four audit firms changed since then?

  11. 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.

  12. A New Era in Corporate Governance

    Directors and investors are demanding reform. Companies had better prepare for it.

  13. Haven or Hell?

    The IRS wants to crack down on multinational corporations that transfer U.S. intellectual property to tax havens.

  14. Compensation and Cash Flow

    Why many companies are using metrics from the cash flow statement, and not just the income statement, to measure annual performance and award bonuses.

  15. Where Material Weaknesses Really Matter

    Some experts believe that during the 2005 annual-report season, many companies may be required to report material weaknesses in their internal controls — and that those disclosures will hurt those companies’ credit ratings and share prices.

  16. New CFOs: the First 100 Days

    Landing a top finance job is only the beginning. Focusing on the big picture is the key to success, according to a new survey.

  17. Great Expectations

    How today’s corporate training programs are grooming tomorrow’s CFOs.

  18. Break Up the Big Four?

    It may be time to split up the largest accounting firms.

  19. The Lunatic You Work For

    If the corporation were a person, would that person be a psychopath?

  20. Internal Rate of Return: A Cautionary Tale

    Tempted by a project with high internal rates of return? Better check those interim cash flows again.

  21. Drowning in Data

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

  22. But Can You Teach It?

    No form of education is more commercialised than management education. But are business schools teaching the right things?

  23. Control(ler) Issues

    How to meet the needs of a growing business — and the demands of new regulations — without burning out the finance staff.

  24. The Two Faces of Bank Mergers

    Corporate customers should look beyond the rhetoric of consolidation’s advantages.

  25. Losing the HP Way

    Two years after Carly Fiorina pulled off a transforming merger, Hewlett-Packard looks huge, frail and confused.

  1. Does Microsoft Need China?

    The tech giant is on the rebound, but its future may lie in how it decides to adapt its pricing model to the developing world.

  2. Worst Day Ever

    Three CFOs share the lessons they learned from their toughest experiences on the job.

  3. How Audits Must Change

    Auditors face more pressure to find fraud.

  4. Private Equity’s New Challenge

    A changed competitive landscape calls for a different business model.

  5. Investment Banks Outsourcing to India

    A number of big names have quietly hired Indian firms or set up their own subsidiaries on the subcontinent to handle basic financial modeling and comparable analysis.

  6. Raiding the Returns

    Hidden costs and high fees eat into 401(k) plan benefits.

  7. Losing Battles

    Two decades of failed Pentagon financial reforms put more than just dollars at risk.

  8. The Reality of Real-Time Reporting

    New, superfast 8-K rules under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act could spawn problems with mergers, loan covenants, and share prices. Needed: a solid risk-management plan.

  9. The Great Divide

    Or, what your CIO would really like to say to you if only the job market were better.

  10. How 51 Gorillas Can Make You Seriously Rich

    Or, why so many business books are awful.

  11. The ABC’s of ERP

    To maximize the return on this massive software investment, plenty of planning is needed, even if you’ve been using ERP for years.

  12. The View from the East

    India’s upstart IT-services firms face their own challenges from their giant rivals in the West.

  13. Watch How You Think

    Insights from behavioral finance could change the way companies approach mergers and acquisitions.

  14. The Second Six: Ready to Step Up?

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

  15. Bribes and the Balance Sheet

    Revved up by Sarbanes-Oxley and M&A due diligence, regulators are coming down hard on corrupt practices involving the foreign subsidiaries of U.S. multinationals.

  16. Switching Industries

    A new survey reports that 75 percent of all finance executives looking for new jobs are seeking new sectors.

  17. Truth and Consequences

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

  18. Exploding the Myths of Offshoring

    Far from damaging the economy of the United States, offshoring should enable its companies to direct resources to next-generation technologies and ideas — if public policy doesn’t get in the way.

  19. Building Your ”Kitchen Cabinet”

    Here’s how to develop your own circle of trusted advisors while avoiding conflicts of interest.

  20. Will Real Options Take Root?

    Why companies have been slow to adopt the valuation technique.

  21. Internal Auditors Find Control Gaps

    Most companies have flaws in their framework for complying with Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, survey finds.

  22. Bouncing Back

    The economy may be on the mend, but for financial executives, the job opportunities aren’t so great.

  23. You Shouldn’t Take the Job

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

  24. 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.

  25. How to Improve Performance Management

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

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CFO Insights on Inflation, Workforce Challenges, and Future Plans 

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