As an online learning provider, Corporate Finance Institute was built on the idea that knowledge is power. Channeling the knowledge of finance experts into practical, curated learning paths, CFI gives learners real-world skills and an understanding of financial concepts to empower them in their careers.
What continues to surprise us is just how powerful that power can be. How it not only helps individuals but extends to the people and businesses they’re working with. How great learning experiences foster a love of knowledge and skill-building that ripples outward. And how that can lead to some pretty spectacular—and tangible—results.
Landon Cortenbach, CFO of the recruitment and consulting organization MSH, is a living example of this power. Having first taken CFI’s FMVA (Financial Modeling & Valuation Analyst) course to upskill his financial modeling, he’s directly applied those skills to accelerate MSH’s growth and inspire a culture of learning across the company’s global operations.
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Landon already had 11 years of finance and accounting experience across the public accounting, consulting, and tech industries, seeing Beats by Dre through its acquisition by Apple and then working at a startup. Eventually, the self-proclaimed “numbers nerd” yearned to go back to finance—but found his skills needed some updating.
“I’d been out of the game for about 4 years and my modeling chops just weren’t up to snuff,” he explained. It was just the spark to light up his competitive nature. “I needed to reeducate myself. It wasn’t even about getting a job, it was about filling a knowledge gap I realized had been created.”
He landed on CFI after a simple Google search and was initially drawn to its accessibility and self-paced structure. Once he dove into the lessons, the quality of content and clear thought toward learner engagement spoke for themselves. Landon finished the entire FMVA course within a month, received his certification, and was eager to put his refreshed skills to use.
“I’ve taken the CPA, I’ve taken college courses, and this was hands-down more valuable than anything I’ve ever done,” Landon said. “It equips you with real-world finance business skills and teaches you how to apply them in a way that’s not intimidating. And when you look at the price point, it’s a no-brainer.”
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“As a company, we’ve leveled up our education of finance and business through a finance lens.”
In November 2020, Landon joined MSH as CFO and was laser-focused on profitable growth. The team “ripped out anything we’d done historically” and went through a year-end planning process that included the concepts and frameworks he’d learned through CFI.
“Our entire financial modeling and forecasting process is a carbon copy of CFI’s FMVA teaching. It’s simplified our processes and includes necessary context to backsolve into the organization.” He continues, “It has fundamentally changed the way we think about business—even our CEO is using phrases like unit economics now.”
What about the results?
At the end of 2021, MSH reported 40% YoY growth in topline revenue, 165% YoY growth to their operating profit percentage, and had welcomed 57 new employees, an “explosive” growth rate that’s continuing upward.
“Obviously this is due to a lot of hard work by a lot of people, but the FMVA played a big part,” says Landon. “And now that we’ve created these templates and this playbook, we have something to work from in the future.”
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“This knowledge becomes part of who you are as a professional, which force multiplies in an organization.”
Part of why Landon is an advocate for CFI is because he’s an advocate for accessible, democratized learning. Beyond putting his team and all future hires through the FMVA course, he loves helping others gain an understanding of financial concepts and how they contribute to the business. Running a global finance organization that spans multiple countries, time zones, and differing accounting standards, he’s committed to sharing knowledge and creating opportunities for cross-company skill development.
“I think there are common skillsets every finance professional should have, especially in the FP&A space. It doesn’t matter what role you’re playing in an accounting function, you should be able to take on some level of this work and have an understanding of it,” he explains. As a bonus, “You don’t have to rush to hire specialists if more people have these general skills.”
That’s not limited to those working in finance or accounting roles. MSH’s General Manager in India, Sayan Bhattacharya, who oversees a team of 125+, is currently taking the FMVA course after expressing interest in how Landon’s financial modeling worked.
“He doesn’t necessarily need this knowledge for his day-to-day work, but saw how good and simple the processes were and wanted to learn how to construct things that way,” he says. “Folks going through the process with me, being interested in it, and taking the time to learn it has been incredible for all of us.”
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“Ultimately, long-term, what is best for professionals? Being able to retain information.”
When asked what makes CFI courses different from a learner’s perspective, Landon reflects on previous experiences taking finance courses and exams. Namely, the dreaded stick vs. carrot.
“Typically in finance, learning is very punitive. When you’re focused on pass/fail, you’re only focused on memorization, not information retention,” he says.
“CFI gave me the flexibility to learn at my own pace, distilled complex topics with visuals and voiceovers, and linked theory to practice in a digestible way. I didn’t have that pass/fail anxiety, so I was able to focus on the information and think about how I can use it to make me a better professional.”
With big plans to change the landscape of hiring through technology, a people-first approach, and service, we’re honored to be part of Landon’s professional journey and can’t wait to see what’s next for MSH!
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Corporate Finance Institute (CFI) is the leading, accredited provider of online learning for finance professionals. With specialized certification programs featuring hundreds of on-demand courses, lessons, and interactive exercises created and led by industry experts, CFI combines theory and practice to give learners best-in-class finance skills for the real world.
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