December 4, 2022

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Financial Consulting And Accounting; Interview with David Lewis, CEO of 8020 Consulting

When you need help with financial consulting, interim financial management, or driving any key finance or accounting project, 8020 Consulting is one of the best firms to ask. In this interview with TechBullion, CEO David Lewis gives more insights into the company’s mission and how they are helping companies navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and financial challenges.

Please tell us more about yourself?

My name is David Lewis, and I’m the CEO of 8020 Consulting. I’ve been the CEO or founding partner of 5 companies, one a 600-person family business, three successful startups in the areas of executive search, consulting and financial project execution, as well as a venture-capital-backed software development firm. My last startup scaled to a 300-person consulting and executive services firm in seven and a half years. In my time there, the firm worked with companies ranging from Fortune 500 companies to venture-backed startups. I have fairly deep functional expertise in creation and implementation of accountability systems, planning, finance, talent acquisition and development and key executive coaching. I completed my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Economics at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

What is 8020 Consulting and what is your mission?

8020 Consulting is a finance and accounting consulting firm based in Los Angeles. We believe in applying the tools of financial analysis and reporting to every aspect of business operations, and we believe in focusing on the 20% of work that will ultimately drive the 80% of the impact… the vital few vs. the trivial many—hence our name.

To serve Clients, we’ve built a team of accounting and finance professionals who apply focus, objectivity and superior academic and professional credentials. Our business model also encourages and rewards individual initiative and creativity and mandates that we leave Clients provably better at the end of each engagement.

What Key finance and accounting services do you provide, could you give us more insights into this?

We provide financial project execution as well as interim financial management services.

Clients of our final project execution services use our consulting team to augment their existing teams or drive critical initiatives that require expertise they don’t have in-house. We offer a wide range of project services, but we generally categorize them as:

  • Financial Planning & Analysis: These projects range from complex financial models to recalibration of critical business tools like sales compensation plans.
  • Financial Reporting & Accounting: These projects include SEC reporting, implementing FASB standards, speeding up month-end close and external audit preparation.
  • IPO Readiness & Public Company Support: These projects center on helping companies prepare for public filings and supporting them after they go public.
  • Financial Systems: These projects span from system selection, implementation, training, optimization and integrations.
  • Financial Project Management: These projects center on driving special projects in the finance and accounting function that require specialized project managers.
  • M&A Consulting & Due Diligence Support: These projects can be focused on the buy-side or sell-side, and they typically center on the coordination and communication between target company and potential acquirer.
  • Financial Turnaround & Restructuring: These projects are centered on helping companies through rough patches, which can require implementing strategies ranging from improving cash flow to adjusting pricing strategies and providing analytical rigor to support creditor negotiations.

Interim financial management Clients use our Consultants in transition situations for key financial executives and management or when their next hire is unclear, which is often upon the departure of a finance or accounting executive, in a suboptimal performance-related scenario or when building out new roles in a department. Our Consultants can fill those gaps, maintain continuity, recalibrate the roles and responsibilities of the job description to the needs of the business and support the hiring process.

Who are your Clients, do you focus on only High-performing companies, any success stories you would like to share with us?

Since our founding in 2013, we have worked with 350+ companies across a variety of industries in companies large and small from early-stage, middle-market and venture-backed firms to well-established Fortune 500 companies. Most of our Clients are in Los Angeles and Southern California, and they prefer confidentiality in terms of our work with them. But the majority of our active Clients have chosen to engage with our company on more than one scope of work; the executives we work with often engage us to provide assistance when they change roles or move into a new firm and are focused on accelerating the accomplishment of the mandates they were hired to execute.

How do you help companies with key management turnover, could you give us a walkthrough?

The departure of a financial or accounting executive creates a capacity issue for the finance organization, which typically takes 3-6 months to remediate via a full-time hire. These companies can move forward by reposting the job description from when they hired the departing executive, or perhaps they’ll make superficial changes and start their search. The issue is that they might not need a copy-paste replacement hire. They might need an executive with specific expertise, a different strategic perspective, or even a new job title entirely.

Third-party strategic perspective is typically extremely helpful in times of turnover. When our Consultants deploy in these scenarios, their first priority is to simply maintain continuity for existing processes, deliverables and other day-to-day responsibilities. Next, they work to optimize the processes and approaches within their direct purview, and they identify additional opportunities for improvement that they might not have direct control over. Then they recalibrate the job description for the eventual full-time hire. If needed, they can also help with the interview and hiring process.

Our Consultants can operate in these positions for as long as the Client needs, meaning they can simply maintain continuity, redesign or clean up departments prior to the new hire or execute process improvements in parallel to the executive search, and they can stay on to onboard and transition in the new hire.

How does technology help your finance consulting projects, any innovative financial insights you would like to share with us from your experience at 8020 Consulting?

Technology is a critical part of modern finance and accounting departments. Effectively selected, implemented and leveraged financial systems can help organizations operate more efficiently and improve the critical reporting and analysis that drives decision-making. Systems can range from more robust Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems such as Oracle, NetSuite and Dynamics; to Financial Planning or Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) tools such as Anaplan, Adaptive, Oracle EPBCS and Planful; to technical accounting platforms like Softrax Revenue Manager (for ASC 606 revenue recognition), Lease Query or Costar (both for Lease Accounting); to plugins like Spreadsheet Server (for connecting Excel and ERP systems). There is a surprisingly wide range of platforms on the market, and it can be difficult to determine real must-haves vs. nice-to-haves or to understand how platforms will integrate into a given organization.

A common mistake is for organizations to try to manage financial system selection and implementation with in-house resources, who also have to continue to support the day-to-day requirements of their full-time roles. Selection and implementation constitute a full-time job on their own. Additionally, the work doesn’t end upon launch, as there are often training requirements, additional changes and support needs.

It’s our firm’s view that engaging an external project manager, who can focus on the implementation 100% of the time, substantially reduces the risk of implementation failure.

How are you helping companies navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic crisis and financial challenges?

This has changed over the course of the pandemic. Initially, we shifted to fully remote work and supported Clients through new processes such as PPP loan applications or more urgent items such as more robust cash flow forecasts.

The finance function is critical to decision making in any high-performing organization, and that role is emphasized more in times of extreme change. Our work didn’t necessarily change, but rather took on a new importance and urgency. We found that Clients shifted their attention to shorter-term needs like forecasts and business stabilization strategies, and they also stayed on track with longer-term improvement such as systems implementations.

Of course, there were Clients that we supported through tougher turnaround and restructuring situations, but we also had a few Clients who went public.

Tell us more about your team of highly skilled and focused accounting and financial Consultants, what makes you special?

My partners and I have been working together for 20 years as a recruiting team, and we’ve been successful at finding extremely skilled talent and nurturing long-term relationships with our colleagues. We’re extremely selective in our recruiting efforts, and unlike with many consulting firms, our entire team is comprised of full-time employees. Our team members get the security that comes with a long-term contract and can focus their effort on delivering value for Clients.

Do you have any available careers, investing or partnership opportunities at 8020 Consulting?

We are always looking for good people with 15+ years of progressive financial or accounting experience, particularly in the Controllership or CFO roles. We’re also interested in financial systems experience, depth in the financial planning and analysis discipline and IPO preparation.

Any other information you would like to share with our readers today?

I invite your readers to visit the Insights area of our website, where our team posts articles and other content related to their work. Even if you’re not a finance or accounting professional, you can learn a lot from their perspectives and experience working in the field.