Hiring a CFO: Best Practices for Making a Good Hiring Decision

5 Min Read

There comes a point where any company worth its salt needs to address its financial leadership. This job falls to the Chief Financial Officer – the CFO. This will be the individual in essence that guides and informs company policy on matters of its raw numbers. And essentially steers a majority of the numerical aspects of the company in a particular direction for pretty much all times to come. So, it is important when hiring a CFO that you are able to fill the necessary position with a good fit.

Running through the entirety of the process in your head can help give some much needed footing to an otherwise extremely stressful and nebulous process. Let’s break it down.

Does Your Business Need A CFO?

The first and most important point for filling a Chief Financial Officer is finding someone who fits with your company and understands the vision, but also the constraints. Do you need a full-time CFO? Can someone else in the company handle the task? Or can the task be split up amongst several employees without pulling them away from their other work?

If it’s a clear yes, we need a CFO, then proceed. Is there enough work present to warrant a full-time position? If not then look into part-time employment or firms with outsourcing capabilities. If yes, then once again, proceed.

Where to Look For A CFO

Odds are there is a fully capable CFO out there in the industry right now. Watch the industry and look at similar businesses in scope and/or size. The industry itself is the field where you’ll find your ideal player when hiring a CFO. In recent years online communities have started catching wind of everything – including CFOs. Integrate with these forums to help not only keep an eye on the space but to also meet plenty of high-value finance-minded individuals.

From there use your connections. Networking and presenting opportunities is a great way to sift through all the numerous options and locate the individual you need.

What to look for in a CFO

In short, a great financial mind, with an incredible industry sense and the communicative skills and leadership ability to help steer those decisions for your company.

A Chief Financial Officer needs to have an array of skills to properly handle the role to its fullest and drive your company along the right track. Firstly, a great CFO needs to know the ins and outs of your industry. A CFO needs to have a depth of that knowledge at the ready and have their hand on the industry’s beat. Taking all this into their perspective and turning out keen observations for the company’s position in the industry.

Beyond leveraging their premiere opinions on topics of the company’s financial wherewithal, a good CFO needs to be a communicator. Need this be explained? And then there’s leadership. Shouldn’t need to explain that one either. Strong leadership drives a project forward while great communication steers it.

However, to extrapolate on these several paragraph’s essential thesis: The CFO’s role is the critical engine that informs all matters of conductible business. The CFO drives many of those initiatives. During the interview process, it’s necessary to see these qualities on display. Ask them about their experience.

It is during the interview process that your company will be able to test and question them. Doing this will give you a more fleshed-out understanding of the depth of their communicative skills. In addition, the “in moment” aspect of interviews presents a perfect opportunity to ascertain the nature of their problem-solving skills.

Lastly, is there a mutual cultural fit when hiring a CFO? You are highering this individual to lead your company. Not just the resources but your people and the driving mentality and approach your employees themselves are employing. The thoughts behind the employees and the administration are in effect the company. And all work comes off as a byproduct of that.

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