The CFO'S Perspective

What do You Really Need when Hiring a CFO?

There is no doubt that hiring in accounting and finance right now is harder than ever before. And yet, despite today’s challenges, companies still need CFOs, which means that simply going without a CFO is not an option.

So, how do you overcome today’s hiring challenges to win the talent war? When you are hiring a CFO, it is going to be important that you focus on finding someone that meets all of your most critical needs first, before trying to check any boxes on your wants list. While this may seem like obvious advice for organizations that are keenly aware of the difference between their wants and needs for the role, many companies struggle to draw a distinction between the two. To complicate matters, what may be a need for one organization might be a want for another even if both are in the same industry or business stage. Even within a single organization what may have been considered a nice-to-have the last time the role was vacant could very well be a must-have this time around.

Let’s take a look at some of the criteria that organizations use to determine their needs and wants when hiring a CFO:

Topics: Recruiting CFO Hiring

How to Afford Experienced Financial Leadership

Hiring a fractional (part-time) CFO is becoming increasingly popular because this type of employment engagement offers significant cost benefits. Outsourcing their CFO role allows an organization to bring someone in for a fraction of the cost because they do not incur expenses related to benefits, bonuses, payroll taxes, etc. As Michael Newsome explains when talking about utilizing fractional service providers,

“Searching for ways to optimize human capital, while fighting the inefficiencies of talent markets, is an ever-present challenge for businesses in the middle market. The human capital corollary to the engineer’s triangle (fast, cheap, reliable – pick two) seems to be availability, relevant experience, and compensation expectation... An increasingly popular way for businesses to address this issue is using fractional service providers, which have proliferated significantly in their breadth and depth of service offerings in the middle market... A fractional solution can offer a way for a business to access additional capability at a lower total cost than bringing on a full-time hire.”

And while the cost savings are clear, many companies remain resistant to hiring a fractional CFO. Their biggest fear is that doing so requires that they sacrifice on quality in a role that requires the utmost proficiency. Leadership with these types of reservations will typically ask questions like, “Is a part-time CFO as good as a full-time CFO?” or “Can you really trust a fractional CFO to perform at a high level?”

Organizations that question whether a fractional CFO can truly get the job done well for less should consider how a fractional CFO can:

Topics: CFO Hiring CFO Responsibilities

How does Uncertainty affect a CFO’s Role?

It is being mentioned on the news, among coworkers in team chats, and over dinner with family day after day. It is keeping Americans (especially business leaders) up at night. In fact, every client meeting we have these days has some discussion around it. What is it? Uncertainty.

Today’s culture is wrought with uncertainty that is absolutely sweeping through every industry. Rising inflation, COVID surges, interest rate hikes, a dramatic increase in the cost of living, the war in Ukraine, and a potential recession all have business leadership mired in a constant state of uncertainty. From professional services and hospitality to tech and manufacturing, uncertainty is taking a toll. And unfortunately, it does not show any signs of dissipating any time soon.

In response, many organizations have begun leaning even more heavily on their CEOs and CFOs to guide them through these tumultuous waters. Consumption patterns have changed, new buying trends have emerged, and supply chains have become murky, reducing confidence levels in business forecasts. And amid it all, CFOs are being asked to manage cash flow, oversee new business priorities, and aid in constantly shifting strategic planning initiatives.

Topics: CFO Planning Leadership CFO Responsibilities Change Management

Why Tech Skills are Essential for Today’s CFOs

Today’s top CFOs are vastly different than their predecessors because the CFO role itself has changed so dramatically over the last few decades. What used to be a strictly numbers-based executive financial role, has now evolved into a pivotal leadership position that touches numerous areas of the company including HR, IT, operations, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. And this sweeping change has ushered in a shift in what is expected of a CFO’s skillset as well.

The most salient difference is how today’s CFOs are required to utilize technology. CFOs are expected to be well versed in technology options for streamlining operations, meeting business needs, informing strategic decision making, and maximizing growth. As a result, tech proficiency has become the single most newly sought after skill when hiring a new CFO.

Topics: Recruiting Trends CFO Hiring CFO Responsibilities

How Do I Let Go of an Underperforming CFO?

According to CFO.com the most common reasons for a CFO change are:

  1. As a follow-up move to a CEO change
  2. A voluntary decision to pursue a better opportunity
  3. To get the right personnel in place to take a growing company to the next level

The article goes on to say, “Finding out precisely how many finance leaders have been asked to take a hike in the wake of accounting fiascoes, earnings disappointments, failed mergers, or unsound investment decisions is trickier, since most of them are effectively silenced by generous severance packages.” While this article speaks directly to publicly traded companies, the same rationale holds true for private companies. We know that firing a CFO for performance-related reasons is by no means the most common reason for separating. However, it is difficult to pinpoint the percentage of companies that have let their CFO go due to underperformance because neither party is going to readily admit that was the reason for dismissal. However, it certainly happens. And when it does, the process poses a uniquely difficult scenario.

Firing an executive of any sort is a daunting task, but letting your CFO go provides an added host of challenges. Since companies task their CFO with the financial management of the company a CFO may possess critical financial knowledge and planning information that can be lost when they are terminated.

Topics: CFO Staffing HR Leadership Change Management Interim CFO Transition

How a CFO Provides Decision Support

A large part of any Chief Financial Officer (CFO) role is strategic decision support, whether those decisions are related to staffing, pricing, selling, manufacturing, or any other area of the business. A CFO’s forward-looking point of view combined with their financial acumen makes them ideally suited to provide actionable information to their CEOs and other corporate decision makers and integral to the success of the organization.

Leaning on a CFO for strategic decision making support offers the following benefits:

Topics: CFO Planning Leadership CFO Responsibilities Strategy

The Top 6 Challenges Faced by CFOs Today – Part 2

Last week we shared the first article in our two-part series on today’s top challenges for CFOs. That article discussed the pressure that inflation has put on companies nationwide as well as the problems with expense reduction strategies and the added complexities of usage-based pricing models.

If you missed it, you can find it here: The Top 6 Challenges Faced by CFOs Today

Today we will jump right in with the last three challenges for CFOs:

Topics: CFO Leadership CFO Responsibilities

The Top 6 Challenges Faced by CFOs Today – Part 1

The pressure on CFOs today is more intense than ever before. Their roles have become increasingly complex amid an uncertain financial landscape, resulting in the kind of financial challenges that CFOs 10 years ago could never have imagined they would be facing today.

Rapidly changing consumer and business purchasing habits have caused demand to fluctuate wildly, nullifying forecasts and ongoing financial projections. At the same time, rising costs on raw materials, packaging, and transportation have cut deeply into the profit margins that CFOs are tasked with managing. And soaring inflation has only exacerbated the challenge of rising costs across all industries.

Topics: CFO Leadership CFO Responsibilities Personal Development