Mar 27, 2022
Looking back on his first CFO role, Steve Vintz recalls waking up one morning and thinking that he might not have a job.
The night before, Vintz had told his company’s CEO that he was having second thoughts about a deck of slides highlighting the virtues of a proposed acquisition.
“It just hit me: This is a deal we can’t do—this is not our deal,” recalls Vintz, recollecting the moment of insight that he experienced and the subsequent butterflies set free.
The company’s board was expecting to meet later in the week, and the “board deck” was the anticipated precursor to a presentation that Vintz and his CEO were preparing to give about a promising acquisition target.
Vintz continues: “Good news travels fast and bad news travels faster, but I caught this a little late in the process. I wish I had felt this way earlier on, but it was a reality. CFOs must have conviction, and conviction is all about doing the right thing.”
The courage of Vintz’s convictions were quickly put to the test when he told his CEO about his reservations concerning the deal—an acquisition that had already received strong support and enthusiasm from the firm’s management team.
“The conversation did not go well. The next day, I called our CMO and asked if I should even come back into the office,” comments Vintz, who adds that the CMO encouraged him to return and speak further with the CEO, who appeared to have begun to digest some of what he had heard the night before.
Days later, when the company’s board members gathered, the CFO was once more in the hot seat.
Says Vintz: “The board wanted to understand why we were having second thoughts, and as we talked, it became clear to the CEO and management team why that was not the time to do this deal.”
In the end, the company’s board ultimately praised the management team for bringing forth its concerns, and a few of its members even repeated the business maxim about how sometimes the best deals are the ones that you don’t do.
Reflecting on his moment of insight, Vintz observes: “I could have very easily sent out the board deck and told myself, ‘I don’t want to look bad, and maybe it will be okay’—but as CFO, you have to listen to your inner self.” –Jack Sweeney