The CFO'S Perspective

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

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

A Practical Guide to Fractional Service Providers

Business owners in the middle market are all too familiar with the task of trying to optimize cost structures – getting the most efficiency and “bang for the buck” out of facilities, equipment, customer relationships, and many other elements of a successful enterprise. People have always been vital and important to businesses, but over the last several years, we have noticed a shift in attention toward people in a different way.

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 example could be a stable, modestly growing manufacturing business in a small town outside of a major metropolitan area in the Pacific Northwest. It has just outgrown the capability set of its hardworking bookkeeper and needs some expertise in setting up more robust financial oversight and reporting capabilities, but attracting capable, senior-level finance talent to its town with a handsome compensation package seems like overkill.

Topics: Hiring CFO Responsibilities Interim CFO