What Employers Want from CFOs

Executive coach Mike Smith did a great job of summarizing comments made by Spencer Stuart’s Karen Quint at a chapter meeting of FEI.

Some very key points from that presentation include this one … “Karen mentioned that the time to get ready for a new role is before the job comes up.” In other words, embrace the “I’m merely between searches mentality.” Have a career survival plan and execute it daily. Despite the fact that CFO tenure is up (partly due to the recession), the fact is that corporate loyalty is tied directly to last quarter’s numbers. 

Additional key points from the article …

–Since 2003, the number of CPA CFOs has risen from 29% to 45%.

There is a lot of chatter among finance executives around the necessity of holding the CPA designation. The reality is, if a company requires it … that is their prerogative. You can’t get around the requirement through a job board or a recruiter, but you “might” be able to get around it through a direct contact with the CEO or a Board member. 

–The national average of an external CFO hire is 40%.

That means a couple of things. First, 60% are internal hires, which is a pretty big number. And it also means that the competition is extremely stiff for the remaining 40%, which is a pretty low number. To compete for those external positions, a candidate must stand out from among all the other CFO candidates vying for those same jobs.

–Today’s Chief Financial Officer is more influential and more visible. He is able to build strong relationships throughout, across, and beyond the company and serves as a strategic business partner.

Bean counting is out … driving strategic vision is in. To accomplish that, CFOs must possess solid interpersonal, communication, and negotiation skills. "CFOs not only want people with people skills working for them, they themselves bring higher value when they bring relational skills sets to the table." (full post)

Quint also wrote an article for Business Week if you’re interested in her thoughts on “Boards and the expanding role of the CFO.”

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