In the current economic climate, having robust and efficient financial systems isn’t an asset, it’s essential. The best way to ensure this is to start at the top, and ensure you have the best possible Chief Financial Officer in your boardroom.
Finding the right person is a complicated process. You might be looking for someone to join your company long term, or just for the expertise you need as your company faces a particular challenge. In situations like that, it’s worth consulting a firm like Savannah Interim, who can find the skilled staff you need for that business change.
The Qualities You Need
Simply having a facility with budgets is not enough for someone who will be so key to the high level decision making at your business. Simon Bailey characterises the role of a CFO as “the corporate conscience, sounding board and advisor who ensures the organisation does the right things the right way”.
This requires excellent diplomatic and communication skills. They don’t just have to deliver difficult truths, but to make a real impact on your business, they need to be able get enthusiastic buy in from people at all levels of your business.
If you are starting something entirely new, this will be easier, as no one will be cite their seniority on the board as a reason to resist. If you’re trying to change the direction of an established business, however, you need an expert influencer. Speak to your recruiters and your network about the changes you are trying to make and the culture you’re trying to create. This primes them to look for someone with a long experience, someone who’s a great change manager as well as a sound financial mind.
Precision is also important: new measures proposed under the brief to be a ‘corporate conscience’ need to be linked to clear costings and rock solid budgets. If your CFO is called to justify something and cannot make their figures add up, undermines their authority in the eyes of other members of the board and makes it more difficult for them to introduce reforms.
Finally, make sure you consider exactly what your plans for your business are. A CFO will have a very different job if you have a series of big expansions in the pipeline to if you are trying to double down on your existing strengths. Make sure you get someone for the job you’re trying to do.