CFOs and Their Career Moves

Two interesting articles came out this week. I’ve pulled a relevant excerpt from each and added my commentary following each quote.

The first article is from“Job Hunting CFOs by the Numbers.”

Turnover among large-company CFOs is outpacing the rate of CEO churn in 2011, for the 17th consecutive year, according to the annual “Volatility Report” by executive recruiting firm Crist|Kolder.

What is missing from the numbers is whether the turnover is voluntary or involuntary.

When the CFO is driving the move, on his terms and timing, to the opportunity he both wants and which is a perfect fit … GREAT! Far-from-great, though, when the move is involuntary and the CFO is caught unprepared, and maybe even off-guard. A move today can take a CFO 9-to-12-to-18 months. Passive positioning is powerful, but you give up that power if you aren’t always ready, willing, prepared, and well-positioned to move on a potential opportunity.

The second article is from FINS, “Companies Promoting CFOs from Within.” While most of the article is focused on the trend of plucking a CFO from within the ranks of the company rather than going externally, I thought this was a telling statement at the end of the article:

Companies want to promote individuals who possess the technical skills of the CFOs but also have the operational skills of a CEO. Hanson’s firm has been hired to fill three or four Fortune 500 CFO spots with individuals who are capable of assuming the CEO role within the next 24 months.

Is the CEO slot your goal? If so, are you poised and visible as a candidate who could assume the CEO role? Technical skills are great, but they will confine you to finance. Proven operational skills (how you used them to deliver bottom-line and strategic impact) as part of the executive management team are critical to showcasing your broader leadership ability.

If you are a CFO and you haven’t yet joined the CFO Careers Group, a private, invitation-only group on Linked In exclusively for CFOs, please send a request to join. We would love to have you.

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4 thoughts on “CFOs and Their Career Moves”

  1. Cindy,

    Absolutely. CFOs must prepare for their next job as early as when they are negotiating their new employment contract.

    As a matter of fact, that was a key piece of advice I gave to CFOs in my recent blog Negotiating your CFO Employment Contract

    The best value a CFO can give to their current employer is to stay marketable. Sounds counterintuitive perhaps, but others want a Great CFO doing Great Things for a Company. If I were a CEO or Chairman of the Board, I would want my CFO to be the best he or she can be.

    Samuel Dergel, CPA, CA, CPC – The CFO Expert

  2. I have a vague recollection of an article that discussed this topic and suggested that the companies that hire CFO’s for the CEO role are those that are hitting a rough patch or turnaround, where the CFO is a known quantity both internally and externally and brings a level of trust and credibility to the role.


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