“People are keeping their cars longer, and that’s good for our business to continue to grow,” Matt Castonguay, SVP of finance, analytics, and supply chain at Team Car Care, tells me.
At Gartner’s CFO and Finance Executive Conference in National Harbor, Md., on Thursday, I had a conversation with Castonguay about the company’s digital transformation journey in financial planning and analysis (FP&A). When he joined Team Car Care three years ago during the pandemic’s supply chain crunch, demand for car maintenance and repair began to skyrocket. FP&A and accounting were doing a lot of manual work and spreadsheets, he said. Team Car Care is the largest franchisee of Jiffy Lube stores. The teams support over 500 Jiffy Lube outlets in 26 states.
So, the company made the move to modernize how it handles financial workflows with automation and machine learning. “The first thing we try to figure out is how many guests are going to show up at a Jiffy Lube,” Castonguay says. “For us to get to that point, it really requires precision around guest count, and not just for the month but for the day.”
Castonguay said the FP&A team uses a machine learning model with a predictive forecaster that’s built into the platform provided by Workday (a CFO Daily sponsor). “This allows us to come up with forecast suggestions based on several years of historical data, based on weather data that we bring in from NASA, and coordinating that together to be seasonal.”
Why? “Believe it or not, people have different behaviors around oil changes depending on whether it’s snowing or raining,” he said.
Before using the platform, “coming up with that detail of a forecast was a four-month exercise, passing spreadsheets back and forth, you know, 100 times,” he said. “Now, we can read forecasts within minutes.”
But with progress, there’s always change. With A.I. and machine learning performing all of these functions, what then will be an FP&A professional’s core objective? They’re increasingly playing a big role in the CFO’s office—predicted to have enterprise-wide data strategy as a key responsibility in the next few years.
“My expectation is that within FP&A, you need to be a data scientist,” Castonguay told me. However, that doesn’t “require us to just say, ‘Alright, we need to completely change who we hire for our FP&A team,” he said. “It means when people come on board, they need to be trained a little differently, a little more technical than in the past.”
Matthew Mowrey, senior director, analyst at Gartner, said on Thursday during the conference that many companies are hitting roadblocks when it comes to implementing tech for FP&A. “I have a couple of clients that categorize their FP&A technology ambitions as a risk project,” Mowrey said.
He shared findings from his report, “2023 Strategic Roadmap for FP&A Technology,” which identifies three vital components of implementing a successful plan:
1. Building good data models: “We’re currently letting these data models atrophy and die. And one of the reasons why that’s happening is because we’re taking our old legacy systems and lifting and shifting those data models into the new,” Mowrey said.
2. Focusing on A.I.: Start experimenting with A.I., he said. You can do this with low risk because the existing technology already hasn’t built it in. “Is it perfect, no,” Mowrey said. “Is it evolving? Yes.”
3. Paying attention to governance: “We need to think about—how feasible are these projects?” he said. “And if they’re not feasible, what would make them feasible in the future? And everyone’s going to want to know, what value is this delivering to our business?”
Have a good weekend. See you on Monday.
The second-quarter “AICPA & CIMA Economic Outlook Survey” is based on a poll of CEOs, CFOs, controllers, and other certified public accountants in U.S. companies who hold executive and senior management accounting roles. Just 14% of business executives expressed optimism in the U.S. economy’s prospects over the next 12 months, which is down from 23% last quarter. Respondents are more pessimistic about their own company’s prospects over the next 12 months (35% vs. 47% last quarter). However, they still see brighter prospects for their company than the economy.
Regarding hiring plans, a total of 43% of business executives said their company had too few employees, essentially the same as last quarter. But 17% said they were hesitant to hire because of economic uncertainty, up six percent from last quarter. Additional key findings: Inflation remained the top concern, followed by domestic economic conditions, which jumped three slots compared to last quarter. Employee and benefit costs remained at the No. 3 slot. Liquidity concerns landed in the top 10 concerns. The survey was conducted from May 2-24, 2023, with more than 400 respondents.
Here are a few Fortune weekend reads:
Here’s a list of some notable moves this week:
Julia Brau Donnelly was named CFO at Pinterest, Inc. (NYSE: PINS), effective June 20. Donnelly will be taking on the role from Todd Morgenfeld. As previously announced, Morgenfeld will transition from Pinterest to pursue new career opportunities on July 1. Donnelly joins Pinterest from Wayfair, where she was most recently VP and global head of finance and accounting. During her more than seven-year tenure, she held several positions of increasing responsibility within the finance function. Before Wayfair, she was a private equity investor in technology and media companies at Thomas H. Lee Partners in Boston.
Gerald Laderman, EVP and CFO of United Airlines Holdings, Inc., the parent company of United Airlines, Inc., announced his plans to retire in 2024, after more than three decades of service with the company, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. An external search will be launched to identify the next CFO. Laderman will serve as CFO until the effective date of the company’s appointment of his successor and then will serve as EVP of finance until his expected retirement in September 2024.
Anna Manz was named CFO at Nestlé. Manz is currently CFO for the London Stock Exchange Group and will join Nestlé as CFO as soon as she is released from her present duties. At that time, she will also become a member of the executive board of Nestlé S.A. as an EVP. Manz will succeed François-Xavier Roger, EVP and CFO at Nestlé, who has decided to step down to pursue new professional challenges. Roger will remain in his role until his successor’s arrival. Before LSEG, Manz served as CFO and executive director at Johnson Matthey PLC. Before that, she spent 17 years at Diageo PLC in several senior roles, including chief strategy director, CFO of Asia Pacific, and group treasurer.
Graeme Pitkethly, CFO at Unilever, will retire by the end of May 2024. The board will now proceed with a formal internal and external search for his successor. Pitkethly joined Unilever in 2002 and was previously EVP and general manager of the Unilever U.K. and Ireland business. Before that, he held several senior financial and commercial roles within Unilever, including SVP of finance for Global Markets; global head of M&A; head of treasury, pensions and tax; and CFO of Unilever Indonesia.
James Turner, CFO of China-based Prudential PLC, resigned following an investigation into a “code of conduct issue” relating to a recent recruitment, according to a Hong Kong stock exchange filing. Turner, based in Hong Kong, was named CFO in March 2022. He previously served as the Asia-focused insurer’s group chief risk and compliance officer.
Yafei (Roxi) Wen is resigning from her position of CFO at Invitae (NYSE: NVTA), a medical genetics company, effective June 30. Wen is pursuing other opportunities; the company has initiated a search for a new CFO. Wen will continue in her role through the end of the second quarter. Christine Gorjanc, longtime chair of the audit committee of the board of directors, will assume the role of interim CFO, effective July 1. Wen’s resignation is not the result of any disagreement with the company on any matter related to operations, policies, or procedures, according to Invitae.
“Typically in inflationary periods, wages don’t keep up, and it’s the price of goods that are going up more than the cost of labor. But this is an unusual episode where it seems like right now the main driver of inflation is actually labor costs, and what that means actually is that workers are gaining.”
—Laura Veldkamp, Cooperman professor of finance and economics at Columbia Business School, told CNBC in reference to the worker shortage, which contributed to pushing wages and prices higher. However, there are signs that wage growth is slowing, “especially as layoffs have skyrocketed nearly fivefold in 2023 across some industries,” CNBC reports.