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


June 9, 2021

By: Sean Mooney

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 recently 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: 

  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.