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How to Hire Your Next Chief Financial Officer

How to Hire Your Next Chief Financial Officer

by Geoff Balmer

How To Hire Acfo Image Blog

​Hiring any leadership position can always be a challenging task? What type of candidates are available? Will they fit in with the company culture? Will they be one of us?

Hiring your next CFO can be daunting especially as they control the purse strings of an organisation which obviously involves a lot of trust.

Richard Lloyd recruits many CFO and Finance leadership roles and here are a few pointers to get you started to help you find your next CFO.

Why Hire a CFO

Hiring the right CFO or Finance Director can be a real game-changer to any organisation as they can bring a lot of commercial acumen and really help the company achieve its strategic objectives. Using their financial judgement, they can ensure you make the right investments, help you understand the profitability of your different products or services, and also help you to understand which of those products/services are losing money.

When should you hire a CFO

Typically, once companies pass a turnover of $15-20m they look for a Head of Finance to bring a more strategic mindset to assist company growth, hence moving the role from a Financial Controller skill set towards a more strategic CFO.

Many smaller companies want to take advantage of someone with that strategic mindset but maybe don’t have the budget for a full-time CFO. This may lead them to hire a part-time or virtual CFO instead.

We have worked with many organisations whose finance team has produced the monthly results and managed all the tax/statutory matters. However, a strategically focused CFO can bring so much more to your business. This can include ensuring better transparency around the numbers with dashboards etc.

Trust me, the CFOs of the future embrace technology making a huge difference to your business.

What Criteria would I use to select a CFO?

This depends a lot on what you want the CFO to do.

Identifying those technical and behavioural competencies that you determine to be key success factors is an absolutely, critical first step. These should relate to what you want the person to be able to do initially, coupled with managing the main challenges that lie ahead.

Most organisations would start off by looking for leadership competencies as the role will generally lead and manage the finance team. They will look for a technically solid financial and accounting background and often will require that the candidate is a professionally qualified finance professional (e.g. CA, CPA, ACCA, or equivalent).

They will look for superior communication and influencing skills so the CFO can assist with decision-making across the business to facilitate the achievement of your financial goals.

Other criteria they may look for could include critical thinking skills, commercial acumen, and depending on what your organisation does, specific knowledge around capital raising, IPOs, mergers and acquisitions/Corporate finance etc.

Companies will often look for relatable industry knowledge so their new hire can bring some fresh commercial insights to the senior leadership team. Depending on your school of thought, others argue that finding applicants from unrelated industries allow for a totally new perspective.

How to find a CFO?

Firstly, it’s important for all the stakeholders to agree on a job brief and then partner with a specialised Accounting Recruitment Agency who will utilise their extensive networks and database to provide you with a solid shortlist of candidates to choose from. In our experience, it’s more important to understand the competencies and skill sets of the candidates and match those to a comprehensive job description than look purely at resumes in isolation. It’s critical to go through a solid and robust interview process and make sure you are probing into the answers so that you know exactly what your future CFO has done and what their experience and background can do for your business.

Accurate representation of your company and role is critical. Whilst you may wish for your company to double in size in the next three years, is this realistic? If not, don’t promise it. Don’t oversell, don’t undersell. Explain all the positives about the culture and journey the business is on, and provide as much insight into the current challenges that exist that this person can help to overcome. Your goal is for the person to walk into their new job on day one and find a role and environment that aligns with exactly what was described.

For senior positions, the process generally involves two to three rounds of interviews followed by extensive reference and background checking.

Ensure your interview process is efficient and clearly mapped out. Who will conduct interviews, are all stakeholders available, how many meetings are necessary, when and where will they take place, who will cover what in each stage?

To sum up, a well-planned out interview process reflects well on you as an employer and will enhance your chances of landing the best candidate in the market which is the ultimate goal. For more information on how to interview an executive, read our blog here: ‘How do you Interview an Executive: Tips and Advice’.

If you are looking to hire for your accounting team, contact us at Richard Lloyd Recruitment and speak to one of our experts.