The role of the CFO is evolving in this post-recession world. CFOs need to expand their contribution beyond the operational finance, accounting and cost control. They need to be flexible and innovative, while still controlling cost. They need to deal with increasing concerns about cybersecurity, emerging markets and increased regulatory requirements. Most importantly, the CFO must possess business knowledge that goes beyond partnering with the business and enters into the realm of business innovation in order to add value to their employer. The expansion of skillset wish lists among companies hiring CFOs, along with the current trend which sees candidates being more selective in evaluating available roles (i.e. desiring CFO roles with a career path to CEO), has led to a longer search execution process.
According to a recent survey of 39 executive search firms, searches took longer in 2015 than 2014, with nearly a third dragging on for more than four months. Contributing to this trend was the evolving requirements of the CFO position.
Vision Search Partners LLC has been completing searches for financial executives for entrepreneurial growth companies in Connecticut since 2000. They have observed similar changes in the role of CFO. According to Bill Bardani, Managing Partner at VSP, “over the past several years, searches for financial executives have become more complex. Companies are looking to do more with less and requiring their CFOs to be effective at balancing both the strategic and tactical aspects of the role.” This has resulted in a preference towards candidates with broad financial and functional experiences gained in middle-market environments.
The CFO with experience in the direct operations of a business and an innovative mindset and approach will find many exciting opportunities in the post-recession world. The CFO who is able to cut costs and increase revenue while directly contributing to the strategic future of the business may take longer to find, but many companies appear to be willing to wait.
- CFO Searches Drag On as Demand Takes Off, The Wall Street Journal, (Lublin Feb. 9, 2016)
- Flex and Flexibility: CFOs at large companies around the world agree: Keep your options open., CFO Magazine (David W. Owens, April 4, 2016)