The CFO'S Perspective

Is My CFO Underperforming?

As executive financial recruiters we work with companies every day who have lost their CFO for a variety of reasons. The CFO may have left to pursue a better opportunity, retired, or made a career change. And in some instances, the CFO may have been shown the door due to subpar performance.

In all honesty, the latter scenario is the least common. Most organizations are hesitant to let their CFO go because of the inherent doubt in the process of doing so. First, there is the big question of how to determine whether your CFO is making the grade. (You certainly do not want to let your CFO go if you cannot be certain that someone else will be able to do the job better!) And, secondly, there is the daunting prospect of needing to find a replacement that is going to be better performer.

But just because it is not very common in practice does not mean it should be. Companies, especially those with owners and CEOs that do not have strong financial acumen themselves, do not typically evaluate their financial leadership as thoroughly as they should. Unfortunately, if your CFO is underperforming, not identifying this in a timely manner or not doing anything about it, can be extremely costly. When your financial leadership is falling short of expectations, strategic planning can fail, affecting revenue and profitability.

Topics: CFO Analysis Leadership Growth CFO Responsibilities Assessment Strategy

My Journey as an Accidental Entrepreneur

Like a lot of small business owners, I never expected to own a business. I didn’t think that I had an entrepreneurial bone in my body. I had always been a corporate guy. It's not latent in my DNA either. My dad spent his 40+ year career with General Motors. His dad tried his hand at owning and running a commercial painting business, but alas, after years of struggling, it failed.

Topics: CFO Portland Success Story

How to Deal With the Retirement of Your Accounting Leader

A business owner should always have a succession plan, yet at the same time be ready when a member of their executive team is ready to implement their own exit strategy, i.e., retirement. The Great Recession caused many people to need to work longer until retiring because of the loss of income and value of retirement assets. But now, a decade has passed, which has given some the time to replenish their retirement savings. As a result of the COVID19 pandemic many people are re-evaluating what is important to them, and in many instances, it means retiring a few years sooner than originally planned.

Topics: CFO Planning Leadership Transition

How is a CFO Hired?

Hiring for any executive leadership position can be a complicated process, but a CFO brings its own unique set of challenges. Organizations that downplay the importance of a thorough job description or attempt to rush through the steps can end up needlessly prolonging the search process or settling for a candidate that does not fit their needs.

Hiring a CFO hinges on writing an effective job description for the position that outlines not only the required qualifications for the role but also the expectations for someone acting within the role. And while this is a foundational piece of the search, it is only the first step in the process. Once the role of a CFO is defined, the active process of hiring a CFO begins. Each subsequent step must then be undertaken with an understanding of how it will build on previous steps and make additional progress toward finding the best candidate for the role. From identifying key decision-makers and setting a hiring timeframe to talking to a recruiting firm and evaluating your hire, each step is integral to the overall process.

So, how is today’s CFO hired exactly? Our executive search team answers your most common questions to explain the process.

Topics: Recruiting CFO Hiring HR Leadership Interim CFO

How to Write a CFO Job Description

Have you ever tried to find something when you could not adequately describe what you were looking for?

Imagine going to buy a pair of pants and when the salesperson asks what you are looking for all you tell them is “gray pants.” How long do you think it will take to find exactly what you are looking for? And how likely is it that you will end up getting tired and frustrated settling for something that is not really what you wanted? In this example, the best outcome is that you find the perfect pair of pants after an arduous search, and the worst outcome is that you end up with pants that fit poorly or are too formal or casual for your needs.

Now apply that same scenario to hiring and think about how difficult it is to find the right candidate for the role when you do not have a clear vision of what you are looking for and what your expectations are for the role. The difficulty is ratcheted up and the likelihood of a negative outcome is much greater.

When the role you are hiring for is a senior leadership position a bad hire can derail the company’s strategic plans. A CFO is in an especially critical role to support growth initiatives, making a hire into this role even more critical to the overall success of the organization. As a result, a job description for a CFO should be customized to fit the specific needs of the business and incorporate the nuances of the role.

Topics: Recruiting CFO Hiring HR CFO Responsibilities