CFO Contingency Plan

Or, Redundancy-Proofing. Or, Career Survival Plan. Whatever the name, the result is the same … ensuring that in these tough, very competitive times you don’t find yourself on the street before you start looking for your next position.

As the lead Finance Executive, you would never run your company on the haphazard basis most people, not just Chief Financial Officers, run their careers. With your company, you have systems and measurements in place, a 3-to-5-year plan, and shorter goals you work towards on a daily or weekly basis.

It’s like steering the Titanic. Slow and steady makes the turn. But if you’re inches from the iceberg (unemployment), it is impossible to do the things you need to do in order to avert disaster.

There is little corporate loyalty today. As the CFO or Senior Finance Executive, the bottom line on the P&L statement stops with you. The moment the Board is unhappy, the CEO starts leaning harder, credit / cash issues continue, or the diminished staff is less and less productive and more and more whiney, the bottom line is impacted and it is your neck that has the potential to move closer and closer to the chopping block.

–Do you have any contingency plan in place in the event you do lose your job?

–Have you reached out to anyone in your network in the last year?

–Will your personal marketing documents be ready should someone ask for them?

–Are you visible to your target audience?

–Have you even identified your target audience?

–Do you know and can you articulate your value proposition?

Several months ago I was engaged by a client who worked himself out of his last position. He told me when we started that his goal was to be employed in 2 months, but until his call to me he had done nothing else. He is in a tough industry and now wore the stigma of “unemployment.” Before we could work together, I was forced to disabuse him of that unrealistic expectation. That false expectation served no good purpose for either of us. It’s been 5 months and he has had no less than 6 potential opportunities for at least 4 of those months. However, while no one will tell him definitively “no,” each one of them is continuing to string him along while taking their sweet time getting to “yes.”

The corporate decision to hire is agonizingly slow for many candidates. And that agony is exacerbated if there was no contingency plan in place and the job loss was unexpected. Desperation forces candidates to make choices and decisions they would not otherwise make if they were executing a solid contingency plan. Remember, “he who fails to plan, plans to fail.”

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2 thoughts on “CFO Contingency Plan”

  1. Cindy
    You have most certainly hit the nail on the head. In my CFO Search Practice, many of the CFOs I meet do little to look for their next job other than trying to extend their current job as long as possible.
    If I can add one area where CFOs need to improve on, it is their networking skills. Many times CFOs end up out of a job, and they have to build their network from scratch.
    In one instance, I met a CFO who was with a company over 20 years, was shown the door, and was not allowed access to his Outlook, which had all his contact information. He had no back up, and no LinkedIn. He had to start from zero.
    I recommend to the CFOs that I interview with to commit themselves to go to one networking event a month, and have one face to face network building, AFTER they get their new position.
    Building your network and paying it forward allows you to call on your network when you need it. You never know when you will need to work your network for your next position.
    Samuel Dergel
    Senior Partner & Practice Leader, CFO Search
    Twitter: @cfo2grow, @cfo2dergel

  2. You’re absolutely right, Samuel. Networking doesn’t come easily to the typical CFO and even if they do have those people skills for networking, they’re so busy working in their jobs that they totally neglect relationship-building.
    And speaking of Linked in – make sure the account is set up with a personal email address, not a corporate address. If you lose your job, you lose your account access, too.
    Thanks for commenting, Samuel!


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