Say on Pay

Executive compensation legislated and regulated. Is it the final nail in the coffin of public companies?

Pretty important read for the C–suite in today … in case you missed it

Say What? The Battle over Executive Comp
Big investors and compensation consultants, both with much to gain and lose, dig in and defend their ground over "Say on Pay."

What are your thoughts on this issue?

Private Equity CFOs

There is good news and bad news for CFOs in’s Today in Finance article, “Private Equity Paints ‘Help Wanted’ Sign.”

Good news because the projection is that things are looking up in this tight market. Top–performing CFOs will be in great demand in the private equity market … translating to the right opportunities for those executives with a clear, compelling, and visible marketable value proposition (MVP).

The potential bad news will be for those CFOs who are under–performing and not positioned to make a move on their timeline … find themselves on the curb may come as a complete surprise and rude awakening. Remember, your MVP is highest when you are perceived as a passive candidate.

It could also be bad news for a top–performing senior finance executive who is invisible to the recruiters seeking such candidates. If you can’t be found, those great opportunities will pass by and go to the “maybe not as qualified” candidate who can be found. A visible, branded online presence is critical to proactively managing a career.

Are you on Linked In? Please join my network. Are you on Facebook? I would love to connect there, too. Be sure to have a public profile that sells your unique and compelling MVP!

Are You Really OK?

I’m OK, You’re In Trouble. Really? How convinced are the folks who were surveyed … really … that it will happen to someone else and not them?

The final results for the 2007 survey of 573 CFOs in the United States and 1,275 globally found that 72% are more pessimistic than they were in the 3rd quarter of 2007.

A more recent survey by Spherion Corp. and cited in Today in Finance, found finance and accounting employees increasingly pessimistic about the economic outlook and the availability of finance positions. "Negative economic news and turmoil in the financial markets seem to be creating general unrest about where things are in the economy," says Brendan Courtney, a Spherion senior vice president.

Despite the general unrest, “… a whopping 82% of finance and accounting employees say it’s unlikely they’ll lose their jobs suggests that they aren’t taking their pessimism personally.”

The best time to proactively manage a career is while you are still employed. In this tight economy, it is not enough to “believe” any position is secure. Sticking one’s head in the sand and hoping that any disturbance will pass him by is intentionally putting a career in reactive mode … and reacting from the street curb is infinitely more difficult.  One need only look to a good chunk of Bear Sterns 14,000 employees for confirmation of that fact.

With fewer jobs and stiffer competition for them, the time to get visible to your target market is 12 to 18 months BEFORE you plan to move.

Is your Finance Career Recession-proof?

Interesting article in today, “Is Your Finance Job Recession–proof?” I’m excerpting the CFO section below, but other finance jobs are covered in the article.

I wonder if a better question would be, “is your finance CAREER recession-proof?”

There is little control over job security, which is always driven by external factors. Conversely, making your career recession-proof … doing the things you need to do on a consistent basis to ensure you do not find yourself on the street for 22.6 weeks (average length of an executive job search) searching for that next job … is all within the control of a passive candidate.


Here’s the excerpt …

<<And what about CFOs themselves? Eldridge says that it’s common for companies to change CFOs during changes in their business cycle — when they go public, for example. Thus, he says, job changes are also common when the larger business cycle turns. For example, a CFO of a smaller growth company may decide to leave if recession forces the company to adopt a defensive economic approach.

But ultimately, CFOs occupy such a volatile position that an economic recession may simply be a moot point. "If the plan is not being met, the CEO is not going to take himself out — the CFO will go first," says Eldridge. And CFOs can’t really win: When CEOs do end up leaving, their successors tend to bring their own CFOs with them. The CFO slot, says Eldridge, "is just a battlezone. You’re going to score a touchdown or get sacked."

That may sound grim, but Eldridge is bullish on finance positions in a recession. One might think, of course, that turnover would benefit an executive recruiter one way or the other. But that’s not so, says Eldridge. Five years ago, he says, financial services hiring "came to a screeching halt. We have not seen that in finance."

He recommends that finance professionals continue to seek ways to balance their skill-set. "Don’t get pigeon-holed. You want to be the value-add person." He says finance professionals can do that by working with senior management on special projects, volunteering for assignments overseas or within operating units and taking other steps that demonstrate that they are more than just a number-cruncher. "You don’t want to be easily disposable," he says.

In the long run, says Eldridge, finance talent is like healthcare: everyone needs it. "I would have to lean towards finance perhaps being recession-proof," he says. "But that doesn’t mean everybody stays in their job.">>

Great read in Today in Finance at

Two things stuck out to me in reading the article, “What You Don’t Know about Headhunters: 10 Tips" in Today in Finance at

First, recruiters are too busy to return every prospect’s phone call, but they expect prospects they call to return theirs. And sadly, that is just the way it is. If working with recruiters is one of your search strategies, and it should be, then you have to play by the rules the recruiters have written. Failing to do so could kill a crucial relationship.

Second is the comment made by Chuck Eldridge, Managing Director of the financial-officers practice at Korn/Ferry International

And, yes, do not wait until you are in trouble or transition to start calling recruiters. "It is extremely unfortunate that so many people don’t network or do it too late," says Eldridge.

Networking – with all of your contacts – is a long–term career management strategy and is most effective when you help others before you need help.

“Understanding what makes recruiters tick is a vital but often overlooked component of the job hunt.” It is also important to remember that recruiters work for a company, not for a candidate. The subtle difference is that they do not find candidates jobs; rather, they fill open positions.

Which brings me to a question. If there really is a recession looming, are you prepared for a possible job loss? Just like networking is most effective when you don’t need it, having a strategic career plan and working your plan is most effective before you lose a job. 

You Are Out of a Job …

You’re Out of a Job, Now What” in Today in Finance at is perfectly timed for the Personal Branding Summit being held today from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

<<Coke is the real thing, while with Allstate you’re in good hands, and Nike just does it. What’s your brand? How do potential employers, former colleagues, and service providers perceive your brand of management and business savvy? Part of the answer is in your personal style, says Croddock, who has worked with many CFOs who run tight ships, but remain detached and even abrasive. Applying such an approach to job hunging won’t work, says the executive coach. Rather, work to become more involved with people, not just the work, during a transition and beyond.

Proul claims that "career goals may change, but a branded individual will have the ability to make transitions easier and at their discretion." And the building blocks of a personal brand are probably already listed on a job seeker’s résumé, including the types and size of the industries, markets, and companies a candidate has worked in, as well as career path, work/life balance, skills, strengths, and expertise, says Proul.

Also, candidates should co-brand themselves through association with employers or departments, writes Proul in a report he authored for Century Group. He explains that many candidates are called in for interviews because of the strong reputation of the company, industry, or products with which they are associated. Writes Proul: "Your employer already spends time and money on marketing; you can capitalize on it. In no other business relationship can you more freely use the branding and name of a company without consent.">>

The entire article is terrific … and a must read for every finance executive who understands that a business plan for his career is just as important as the business plan for his company.

Why MEASURABLE Impacts are So Important

According to the article “CEOs Don’t Earn Their Pay, Execs Agree” in Today in Finance at magazine,

>>Although chief executives are usually charged with setting performance measures, 58.8 percent of respondents said the reason for overcompensated CEOs is a lack of real performance objectives and evaluation. Further, 47.8 percent said rewards bore little connection to future corporate performance. And 39.6 percent faulted "undue CEO domination of the process" as the reason for exorbitant pay.

With everyone seemingly ganging up on the CEO, it might comfort some that 56.3 percent of those surveyed said that their board has a formal CEO succession plan. Good news for the CFO is that most of those queried consider the finance chief to be a natural choice to take the top job.<<

A CFO can become the trusted advisor and confidant to the CEO in creating and executing strategic growth initiatives; benchmarking world-class finance performance measures; and becoming a very visible face of the organization through liaisons with investors and lending institutions thereby positioning himself to move into a CEO role.

The challenge I see … constantly … from my CFOs is a focus on what they did rather (responsibilities) rather than how they delivered (performance). If that sounds like you, begin today to keep track of both the measurable impact to the bottom line and the long–term strategic importance of your contributions. It will matter in defending your future salary.