Temporary CFO Assignments: Hire the Right Interim

Identifying an interim chief financial officer can be tedious, if not expensive. Companies that don’t know what they’re looking for when they begin their search could spend large sums of money on headhunters and recruiting firms.

They can also lose valuable time interviewing unqualified candidates.

When hiring an interim CFO instead of a permanent replacement, key considerations include timeline, need-specific criteria and keeping an eye out for red flags.

As a trusted resource for hundreds of private equity firms and thousands of portfolio and independent companies, BluWave has exclusive insight into what makes a home-run selection vs. someone who will send you back to the drawing board.

Continue reading “Temporary CFO Assignments: Hire the Right Interim”

In the Know: The Importance of Interim CFOs

As part of an ongoing series, we’re sharing real-time trending topics we are hearing from our 500+ PE firm clients. In our most recent installment, Wyatt Wiser, a BluWave Strategic Account Executive, shares the importance of interim CFOs and why they are a vital resource all PE firms should be taking advantage of. Learn more by watching the video below.

Interested in connecting with interim CFOs? Contact us here to quickly get connected to the exact-fit interim CFO you need.

Video transcript:

The CFO role is one of the most critical seats in a business. The position plays a key role in ensuring that a business is strong and if PE-backed, that the investment is successful. Because this seat is vital to a company’s success, it is important that it is not left open, and is also filled by someone who possesses the right skillset to execute on the demands that come with being a CFO.

To ensure that both of these are always the case, PE firms often turn towards interim CFOs. At BluWave, we equip our private equity firm clients with interim CFOs for various due diligence, value creation, and prep-for-sale needs. Here are some of the most common use cases for bringing in interim CFOs:

Number one, unanticipated departures. When CFOs unexpectedly resign, it can leave a company’s finance function in chaos. We help PE firms combat this by providing them with exact-fit interim CFOs who can quickly step in, fill the shoes of the role, and keep the ship steady while the search for a permanent placement kicks off.

Number two, longer than normal hiring processes. Even when a CFO seat is expected to be vacant within a certain timeframe, sourcing a candidate to step in at the exact time you need them to can be challenging. With hiring processes taking longer than normal, interim CFOs can help bridge the gap, giving you extra time to ensure you hire the best-fit person for the job.

Number three, professionalizing new portcos’ finance functions. We are supporting many PE firms as soon as a deal closes, by supplying them with interim CFOs. These firms are bringing in these individuals to help new portcos’ finance functions understand what it means to be PE-grade, and help them get the right monthly performance packages in place to ensure that the PE firm is getting the info it needs.

And finally, number four, prep for sale processes. Our clients bring in interim CFOs to respond to diligence requests, assess data, and pull reports prior to a sale. By bringing in an extra set of hands to take care of the extra workload that comes with a sale process, FTEs are freed up to maintain focus on keeping the daily routines going, without causing a delay on the sale process. The modern-day M&A process is fast and furious, valuations decline the second you have to hit the pause button, making it crucial to keep the momentum.

Interim CFOs are one of the most versatile and useful resources available to private equity firms. More than 500 leading firms come to us with their interim CFOs because of our ability to know before they need, hone in on individuals that meet their specific, unique criteria, and quickly connect them to the select few that are exact-fit.

If we can support your interim CFO needs, please contact us at insights@bluwave.net.



Interim CFOs – Why Use Them?

Interim CFOs are a powerful resource that can be used in a wide array of ways.

In this video, BluWave’s Founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, and Managing Director, Houston Slatton, discuss some of the most common uses of interim CFOs and the benefits to both the PE firm and the portfolio company.

You can learn more about the finance resources we have, including interim CFOs, FP&A experts, and more here.



Video Transcript

Sean Mooney, Founder & CEO: Hi, my name is Sean Mooney. I’m the founder and CEO of BluWave. I’m joined here today by my colleague, Houston Slatton. Today we’re going to discuss one of the most popular use cases in the BluWave toolbox, interim CFOs.

So Houston, how does your team know who’s really good and what’s needed for a private equity grade interim CFO to exceed the standards of a private equity firm?

Houston Slatton, Managing Director: Sure, yeah, it’s a great question, Sean.

First, we’ve got dedicated research teams that are constantly mapping these markets to know who’s really good, know where they’re really good, and know what their specialties are.

Secondly, we use frameworks that you developed over your time in private equity, Sean, to be able to assess them and rate them against particular skills and capabilities, but through thousands of iterations, we’ve been able to take those and take them to the next level and beyond (check out our post that covers the five things to consider when hiring an interim CFO here).

SM: I think you guys have done a great job at that. Candidly, I was pretty good at it. I could do it but I was the king of brute force and it was a craft project every single time, and so what I think you guys have done a great job is through seeing it and doing it over and over and over again, developing these tightly owned processes for assessing who’s really, really excellent at things. I think you’ve done a great job. What do you think about next in terms of other things that you do?

HS: One, we vet them specifically for every opportunity. We want them to give us the “heck, yes,” or “no,” which means really we want them to be self-aware and only tell us it’s a good fit if it really is if it’s a 10 out of 10 project. They’re proud to be in our network, so we get that honesty, but then we also hold them accountable as well, by working with our clients to collect that feedback along the way at the end of projects, to hold them accountable and make sure they’re great.

SM: I think that’s a really powerful part of what we do, is this whole circle of trust. People who are invited into this network are proud to be in it, and they do everything they can to be excellent over and over and over again because it supports their success, and our clients’ success, in this symbiotic fashion. That’s great.

Through what you’ve seen in our client base, Houston, what are some of the ways that people are using interim CFOs?

HS: Sure. I guess one of the top ones is just the unanticipated departure. When a CFO may leave for any number of reasons, it’s great to bring somebody in that can keep their hands on the wheel, keep things moving quickly and continue to make sure the company’s producing at an excellent level.

We also see a lot of groups that need somebody to come in once a deal closes to do what we call professionalize the finance function, get the right monthly reporting packages in place, make sure that the PE firm is getting the information it needs, do any conversions, transformations, things like that to make sure that the finance function of the portfolio company is really up to private equity grade.

SM: Yep, and I think that’s a great emerging use of this resource in that they not only can get things done faster with more speed and certainty, but they get to show, particularly newer CEOs and CFOs, what really good looks like at the private equity standard when a new deal kicks off? What about on the other side of the equation?

HS: As PE firms start to think about selling a company, CFOs have a lot on their plates already, and so we’ve had clients who will bring in an interim CEO or an FP&A resource that can help respond to diligence requests, assess data, pull reports, and allow the full-time employees of the company to keep things moving while keeping the sale process moving without delay.

SM: Yep. I think that is one of the other really surging use cases for interim CFOs or FP&A professionals. The modern-day M&A process is fast and furious, and the second you have to hit pause you can see valuations decline. Our best clients right now are using that so they can run at a really fast pace and not lose momentum during a sales process, so I think that’s another great thing to think about for this type of really excellent professional.

HS: Sure.

SM: I think those are some great insights around a tool that’s been around for a long time in private equity, but is being used in different ways. One of the things that I’ve learned probably most since moving from private equity to BluWave is that experience and velocity and laps around the track really, really matter. When I was in private equity, I would do things episodically and it was hard to become an expert at them.

At BluWave we’re doing things thousands and thousands of time for the very best private equity firms. We have the highest standards in the world and that helps us become increasingly better and better and better every day, and it’s gotten to the point where we’re trusted by more than 500 of the world’s top private equity firms to help connect them with the very best third parties, who we’re very proud to work with as well.

If you’d like to learn more about BluWave and how we can help you, please feel free to reach out to Houston or any member of the team or me, and we’d be happy to do anything we can to help give you just a little more excellence, a little more alpha with ease, in a way that’s supportive of your success. Thank you very much.

Interim CFO: When and Why You Might Need One

When is an interim CFO needed?

Many businesses find themselves in a situation where they need to hire an interim CFO. This can be for a number of reasons, but it is most often due to a sudden change or growth in the company. If you are considering hiring an interim CFO, there are a few things you should know. In this blog post, we will discuss when and why you might need an interim chief financial officer, and we will also provide some tips on how to go about finding the right one for your business.

As your business grows, you will likely find yourself in need of more financial assistance. If your current chief financial officer is not able to keep up with the demands of the job, you may want to consider hiring an interim CFO. An interim CFO can help take some of the pressure off of your current team, and he or she can also provide valuable insights during a time of transition.

There are a few things to keep in mind when hiring an interim CFO. First, you will want to make sure that the individual has experience working with businesses that are similar to yours in size and scope. Additionally, you will want to find someone who is comfortable working on a short-term basis and who is open to being flexible with his or her schedule.

If you are considering hiring an interim CFO, we are here to help. We have a deep pool of interim CFO resources in our invitation-only network. We pride ourselves on our ability to match you with the exact-fit interim chief financial officer you need when you need them. You can learn more about our interim CFOs – including case studies, how-tos, videos, guides, and thought leadership here.

Key things to consider when hiring an interim CFO

  1. Flexibility: When hiring an interim CFO, it is important to remember that this is a short-term solution. As such, you will want to make sure that the individual you hire is someone who is comfortable working on a short-term basis and who is open to being flexible with his or her schedule.
  2. Speed: The head of finance is a mission-critical role for the business and it is a seat you do not want to leave open for any longer than you need. It is imperative that you find someone who can step into the role that aligns with your needs.
  3. Budget: There is a wide range of rates for interim finance executives. Find a resource that fits within your budget.
  4. Similar experience: You will want to find someone who has experience working with businesses that are similar to yours in size and scope.
  5. Cultural fit: Company culture is core to your business. Ensure this is accounted for in your interviewing process.

What about a fractional CFO?

If you are not sure where to start your search for an interim chief financial officer, you may want to consider using a fractional CFO service. Fractional CFO services can provide you with access to experienced professionals on a part-time basis. This can be a great option if you are not ready to commit to hiring a full-time CFO.


We connect you with the third-party resources you need

No matter what route you decide to take, it is important to remember that the goal is to find someone who can help your business during this time of transition. An experienced interim CFO can be a valuable asset to any business.

We connect you with the exact resource you need. Do not hesitate to reach out and ask for help if you feel like your company is in need. You can learn more about our interim CFO offering here or you can connect with a member of our team here to get started.


How to find the right-fit interim CFO for your growing business

I get asked a lot of questions about how to build a business, and how to do it with as few headaches as possible. Not that I’ve totally figured it out, but I’ve certainly made my fair share of missteps and gratefully have learned something along the way. From investing, to hiring, to reducing headcount, to managing the ups and downs of an economic recovery period—one thing remains unchanged: leadership matters. And if you’re talking about key leadership positions, the one that companies most often get wrong is the CFO. 

Why? Well, the answers are as varied as the reasons they fail, but it generally has to do with asking the right questions from the beginning. In other words, the interview process is often to blame.  

I wrote an article for CFO Magazine about “hiring the right interim CFO” and how to ensure you set your company up for success when it comes to hiring one of the most important positions. Whether you are looking for an interim CFO (who can move into a full-time position) or looking for a full-time financial executive, here are some things you should know before you greenlight your new hire:


8 Things To Know Before Hiring An Interim CFO


  1. If you are a PE-owned company and need to bring in a short-term finance chief, find someone who has worked for a PE-backed company before. 
  2. The interim executive needs to have a track record of wins. That generally means a significant tenure at multiple companies. 
  3. Find someone with industry experience, because it’s much easier to stand at the finance helm of a manufacturing, healthcare, IT, or services company if you’ve done it before. 
  4. Similarly, the interim CFO should have experience working for a company of similar size and scale. 
  5. It’s not enough to understand the numbers (sales, revenue, overhead) — you need someone who understands what the numbers mean. 
  6. For the best results, find a pro who has a high IQ and a high EQ (emotional intelligence), because the interim CFO needs to quickly gain favor from others in the organization to gather information and build a story around the numbers.
  7. Be sure to have conversations with key stakeholders in a candidate’s prior roles. Choose the references; do not use the references the candidate gives. 
  8. While enthusiasm is a wonderful aspect of a new leader, a short-term executive should have a stabilizing effect, not a disruptive one.


For more details and to read the full article in CFO Magazine, click here. 

Interested in connecting with a CFO or interim CFO in our network? Contact our consulting manager, Scott Bellinger, here.

REDIRECTED Interim CFO – what to look for when hiring this critical role

One of the biggest mistakes private equity funds make when searching for an interim CFO for their portfolio company is looking for someone who can do everything a full-time CFO would. Searching for this diamond-in-the-rough candidate ends up taking just as long as it would take to find a full-time candidate, and in the meantime, the portfolio company is without a strong financial advisor.

Instead of wasting time and money looking for an interim candidate who can do everything, PE funds should concentrate on the three most important things they want their CFO to achieve in the two to six months that they’ll be at the company. Do you need to push through key changes in specific business areas? Do you need to identify internal control shortcomings and their associated risks? Choose the interim CFO candidate who can address your most pressing needs.


The Four Qualities of a Successful Interim CFO

While an interim part-time CFO may not be the agent of change that a full-time CFO will be, they should have qualities that allow them to quickly onboard and effectively solve problems in the short time they’re with the portfolio company. Characteristics to look for in an interim CFO include:

  • Strong Collaborative Skills—An interim chief financial officer needs to build a strong relationship with both the PE fund and the portfolio company leaders. They also need to build trust with the portco’s in-house finance team. This requires transparency and a willingness to collaborate.
  • Ability to Adapt Quickly—Since they’ll be with the portco for a limited time, a temporary CFO needs to hit the ground running. They should work with the PE fund to quickly define goals, requirements, and deliverables for the company’s transition period. Ideally, the interim CFO should have experience in the portco’s industry so that there isn’t a steep learning curve.
  • Desire to Solve Immediate Problems—An outsourced CFO should be someone who’s excited to jump in and solve the three most important, immediate challenges that the PE fund has identified. The CFO should recognize that they may not see the full results of their efforts before they leave, but that they’ll be making others on the portco’s team look good.
  • Excellent Communication Skills—An interim CFO should be adept at interpreting financial data and presenting it clearly to the leadership team. Strong communication skills will help the CFO quickly establish credibility with their team and smooth the transition post-acquisition.

Narrowing Down Your Interim CFO Candidates

As you narrow down your pool of interim CFOs, review each candidate’s career moves carefully. If a candidate has a new job every year but isn’t a professional temporary CFO, that could be a red flag. If they are a professional CFO consultant who has worked with many different companies, see what experience they’ve had in your portco’s industry and with similar challenges.

When interviewing your final candidates, ask for references. Tell each candidate which references you want to see rather than just taking the ones they give you. When you talk to their references, ask them how the interim CFO addressed their most pressing issues. You should look for a candidate who has completed the same types of goals that you have identified as being the most important for your portco right now.

Finally, don’t waste your own team’s time going down rabbit holes as you search for an interim CFO. BluWave can connect you with custom-fit interim CFO candidates and vet each provider to narrow down the field. Our research-intensive, private equity-tested approach can get you better outcomes and save you thousands on direct opportunity costs. Set up a call with us to learn more about how we can help you find the right interim CFO for your portco.

Event Recap: PEI Ops Partner Forum: What makes a great PE talent partner?

Last week, we had the pleasure of participating on the “what makes a great PE talent partner?” panel at the PEI Operating Partners Forum in New York. The panel was comprised of human capital leaders – including, Merche del Valle of Grain Management, Alice Mann of Blue Wolf Capital Partners, Ashley Day, a former Chief Talent Officer, and Michelle Nasir of Arsenal Capital Partners.

It was great to be in person with over 200 leading PE ops partners and to have a discussion with those that are talent-focused about what their jobs look like, now that talent operating partners make up 34% of all operating partners, versus the 3% that comprised the PEI ops partner forum 3 years ago.

We have seen the increase in human capital importance firsthand, with our proprietary data showing human capital initiatives increasing to 39% of PE activity this quarter compared to 17% in Q1 2018.

In addition to the increase of importance that has been placed on human capital initiatives in PE, data has shown that they have also become wide-ranging, covering everything from interim leadership to exec assessment diligence.

Given this context going into the panel on what makes a great PE talent partner, the below are some of the topline takeaways:

  • Talent roles vary widely across funds:
    • When talking to other panelists, we discovered that some of their talent roles are more internally focused on HR within the PE firm itself, and some are exclusively externally focused on portco executives only. It was also discovered that roles vary additionally by how and when they get involved.
  • Working with the deal team:
    • The panelists all agreed there have been changes in the amount of time available to fully execute on all of the responsibilities that may have fallen on talent in the past. They said that with this change, funds need to be more regimented and prioritized in terms of how and where they spend their talent team’s time.  In terms of executive assessments, interestingly—some assessments have become less comprehensive.  BUT, funds have also become more creative with deploying assessments given the tight market. Many are giving offers that are contingent on assessments and background checks going well.
    • For work with deal teams—the primary takeaway is that the earlier involvement, the better.  Roles amongst our panelists truly varied as to when they got tapped and for how comprehensive a remit, i.e. “do this assessment” vs “ride along on the deal execution to help us spot red flags.”
  • Pressurized market:
    • Funds have become more regimented due to Covid.  They have discovered efficiencies in the process that were developed during the times when everyone was remote and are now helping funds keep up in a highly pressurized market. These playbooks and scorecards have been developed for both internal hiring and monitoring the health of various portcos from a human capital perspective, i.e. turnover, depth of exec bench, etc.

If your firm needs human capital help, we can help make the job easier by connecting you with exact-fit interim executives, HR diligence providers, executive assessment providers, and more. Contact us here if we can be of help and check out our Interim CFO Hub to learn more about how interim executives can benefit you.

How We Did It: Interim CFO Case Study

Leveraging our founder’s 20 years in private equity, we have extensive frameworks for assessing PE-grade interim CFOs. So, when a private equity firm purchased multiple I.T. managed services provider companies with the intention of integrating them into one streamlined platform, they turned to us for their immediate need: finding the perfect fit, interim CFO. Crucially, the candidate they were looking for both understood the I.T. MSP environment and had a proven track record of successful financial integrations.   

For the full story, read the case study here.