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The CFO 411: No Assumption Is Safe

Stack of Jenga blocks

Business as usual? Not for innovative companies looking to stay a step ahead of the competition. Those eyeing the public markets demonstrated a radical re-think of everything from insiders buying to multiple-class structures. Beyond IPO markets, more companies are voluntarily cutting carbon emissions and switching to renewable energy sources than ever before. And while a new analysis shows that opportunities for U.S. working women lag behind other countries, American firms are more likely to have women in high-profile roles—including the CFO seat.

4 need-to-know headlines

1. Companies approaching IPOs in new ways, study finds

Stocks that debuted in 2015 ended the year trading below their initial offerings on average. But digging below that dismal headline, law firm Proskauer Rose found that the very nature of how companies approach IPOs may be changing. Among the top surprises: The stigma against insiders buying in an IPO has largely lifted, investors are no longer balking at multiple-class structures, and investors seem content with fewer years of audited financial statements than had been submitted in the past. (via WSJ Moneybeat)

2. More businesses plug into green energy

U.S. companies are now buying renewable energy at the fastest pace ever. It’s a trend that’s affecting companies both big and small, in industries as varied as auto manufacturing and retail. Experts trace the voluntary embrace of green energy back to a decline in renewable prices and more widespread availability. “Any renewable energy project has to provide a savings,” said GM’s global manager of renewable energy. (via

3. Chinese trade plummets, IMF sounds the alarm

Weak global demand and slow sales during the country’s Lunar New Year holiday hit China hard last month. Figures released this week show that Chinese exports took the largest dip since mid-2009. Exports plummeted 25.4% from a year earlier, nearly twice as much as analysts predicted. Imports, meanwhile, fell 13.8%, marking the sixteenth straight month of decline. In reaction to the news, the International Monetary Fund called upon policymakers to take urgent action and “put the global economy on a sounder footing.” (via

4. Glass ceiling thicker in U.S. than elsewhere

Facebook and Twitter streams were flooded March 8 with upbeat messages to mark International Women’s Day. But The Economist’s annual Glass Ceiling Index shows that many American women in the workforce have long strides ahead. The index, which factors in everything from access to higher education to representation in senior management, shows the U.S. ranking No. 19 of 29 developed countries. That puts it below the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development average. One silver lining: Though American companies have fewer female board members than European businesses, they’re more likely to have a female CEO or CFO.  (via, may require log-in)

The stat: 7 in 10

The number of firms that have been sent bogus invoices via email, potentially opening the door to a cyberattack, according to the Institute of Directors.  The new report found “a worrying gap between awareness of the risks and business preparedness” for dealing with hackers, who may target any member of the rank and file as they try to breach a business’s ramparts. (via

Sound bite of the week

“The worst thing you can do is look at something that superficially seems to make sense, but you really don’t have the data to justify going forward on. You may do more harm than good.”
— U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White
The agency had undertaken a major review of the fragmented stock market system, intending to overhaul it. But this week Ms. White announced that the agency won’t advance any changes during her tenure. (via

4 Top Stories + 1 Key Statistic + 1 Industry Quote = The CFO 411
The CFO 411 is our weekly news roundup that brings you top headlines, data points, and sound bites to keep you in the know. Follow our updates on LinkedIn for more finance must-reads.

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