Interview with Jody Deffes, relishes training clients
By Sidni Shorter In Interviews Posted May 6, 2013 0 Comments

Execute Now!’s Jody Deffes relishes training his clients

“I have a small problem—I can’t do anything halfway,” confesses Jody Deffes.

Deffes is a senior staff accountant with Execute Now! and has been assisting nonprofits with their financials for the past year. The nonprofits who’ve worked with Deffes during the past year have no doubt experienced his tenacious approach to financial management and his passion for educating his clients.

His first job as a teenager was in a bank performing the now extinct position of Coin Room Teller. “Twenty years ago, they would find a kid like me who wanted to work in a bank, wasn’t afraid of lifting a daunting load, and was willing to count and assemble quarters into rolls. A bag of $1,000 in quarters was heavy!” exclaims Deffes.

A move to nonprofits

Deffes’ early days in the coin room eventually led to full-time work as a clerk while earning his bachelor’s degree. He later landed his first controller position for New Orleans Province Jesuits. “Working with the Province really showed me the differences between an organization that has a mission and companies that focus solely on profit. That experience stuck with me,” Deffes remembers.

Today, Deffes loves the opportunity to work with a variety of nonprofit clients and his Execute Now! team. Typically, prospective clients never call Execute Now! when the financials are running smoothly; Jody usually gets paged when there’s a problem or there’s been turnover. “I’m lucky that our clients are ready to see us when we arrive,” says Deffes. “They’re ready for us to examine the nooks and crannies of their financials.”

Education and training are paramount

Deffes commonly finds himself working with the in-house staff members to update and improve their systems so they can more easily manage the financials. “We’re not only completing the finance and accounting work; we want to educate and train the client to understand his/her financials,” asserts Deffes. He also experiences situations in which the person at the top of the organization is trying to manage without the information s/he needs. “My goal is to get my hands on good information so the client can make better decisions,” Deffes explains.

When the going gets tough

One of the most complex situations Deffes recalls happening was when a client experienced turnover in the CEO and CFO positions. The problems he and his team identified went back several years. Auditors had walked away from the situation and staff members had lost so much faith in the financial systems that they began keeping their own records. Deffes and his team were able to restore trust in the systems by rebuilding consistent and accurate financial reports and accounting procedures as well as instructing the staff about best practices.

What’s most rewarding?

When I asked Jody what is most gratifying about working with nonprofits’ financials, he replied, “Education and training. These program managers are starving for accurate information. They want to know what they have, that it’s correct, and what it tells them. To watch them apply what we’ve taught is fantastic and if these people move on to other nonprofits, these are skills they’ll take wherever they go.”

Execute Now! allows clients to focus on their mission without having to manage accounting staff.  Research has shown that there’s more turnover within the accounting function than in any other function within nonprofit organizations. Execute Now! clients are surrounded with a team of four high-caliber employees – Staff Accountant, Financial Analyst, Director of Finance, and CPA for a fraction of the cost it would take them to construct such a team themselves. Their service model allows them to go well beyond basic month-to-month accounting and provide a CFO-level strategic advisory service, which has been their primary value-add to nonprofits.

By Denise McMahan

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