The CFO'S Perspective

Why is it so hard to hire an accounting employee? A 20th-anniversary reflection

As CFO Selections celebrates its 20th anniversary of providing business owners with senior finance and accounting services, I want to help business owners and hiring managers understand the challenge faced in hiring accounting employees in 2022.

Unfortunately, this challenge is not going to disappear after this year. Today I will provide some ideas later to overcome the challenge, … but first, we must understand why we have this challenge.

Topics: Recruiting Hiring Staffing

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 to Win the Talent War in Accounting and Finance

The war for talent that emerged amid The Great Resignation is still going strong in the areas of accounting and finance. As Hannah Green explains,

“The accounting sector has a problem with numbers. Specifically, it’s becoming harder and harder for firms to attract top talent. Why? There just aren’t enough talented bodies to go around. In what’s come to be known as the ‘war for talent’, top firms are finding it increasingly difficult to secure and retain highly qualified finance and accounting professionals.”

Topics: Recruiting Finance Accounting Hiring Staffing HR

How Much Will Raises Be This Year?

With so much economic uncertainty the employment landscape in 2022 will likely remain tumultuous. Information about how many people are employed, where, and for how much is going to continue to dominate the business news headlines. And much like last year, compensation will be at the forefront of many employees’ minds as they watch their cost of living increase and worry whether their pay will keep pace.

Of course, for the nation’s unemployed, discussions about how compensation may fluctuate this year remain inconsequential. And for small businesses that have been doing their best to absorb rising costs without laying people off or shutting down, the idea of giving raises this year is likely going to be a moot point. But for middle management, executive leadership, and HR personnel at mid-sized to large companies, the question of what to expect in the way of raises remains critical to business planning.

So, what should you plan for a raise this year?

Topics: Recruiting Economic Trends Hiring Planning Staffing Financial Projections HR Budgeting Forecasting Expenses Salaries

The Difference Between Retained and Contingent Search

When you need to fill a leadership position, who can help find the right candidate for the role?

Recruiting companies fall into one of two camps, either retained search or contingent search firms. Understanding how these approaches differ is key in determining which is a better fit for your hiring needs.

Over the last 15 years, we have worked with more than 2,000 consulting and search clients, placing CFOs at companies spanning a wide variety of industries. In that time, we have evaluated innumerable recruitment prospects, giving us unique perspective into the types of questions, misconceptions, and concerns that arise during the hiring process. The most common questions we hear are regarding the nature of retained search as prospective clients try to determine what kind of recruiting firm is going to be best for their open role.

Topics: Recruiting Search Services Hiring Staffing Interim CFO

Do You Need a Professional Services Firm for an Interim Hire?

When a key employee leaves, hiring a replacement is of paramount importance. But when it is going to take considerable time to find the right person to fill the vacant role or a hired replacement cannot start right away, an interim hire is used to bridge the gap.

So, who do you turn to when you need help with interim employment?

Hiring managers may ask, “Does it matter who we bring in to help us hire an interim position, anyways?” and “Do we need to spend much money to hire someone that we only plan on keeping around for a short time?” The ubiquity of staffing companies makes them an attractive choice for inexpensive hires in individual contributor roles. But what about interim executive leadership roles?

A role like the CFO position needs to be filled with an experienced professional who is ready to lead the organization. As CFO Magazine explains,

“Leadership voids are particularly perilous when it comes to the CFO position. CFOs are the ultimate utility players in an organization — they’re captains of detail orientation. They need to seamlessly interact with all parts of the company to gather and disseminate information. At the same time, they need to be a strategic thought partner with the CEO. Having this seat empty can cause the best of companies to stall. Interim CFOs keep a company in a safe pair of hands. They provide stability by offering critical financial reporting and business intelligence and moving key projects forward. Interim CFOs enable proactive companies to keep the momentum going. They also, maybe most importantly, allow them to take their time to find the right next full-time finance chief (vs. rushing to hire whoever is available at a moment’s notice).”

The importance of the CFO role begs the question, do professional services firms provide an advantage for these types of hires? What sets them apart from staffing agencies? And do these advantages justify their premium pricing?

Topics: Recruiting Hiring HR Change Management Interim CFO 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