Not long ago, we applauded medical workers for fighting in the frontline against a global pandemic. The focus on essential workers took center stage as many businesses hustled behind the scenes to survive critical management of their finances. During this confusing time, good Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) became the heroes for businesses.

As CFOs faced the ‘worst case scenario’ ever imaginable, they were forced to fine-tune skills, stay calm, manage debt, and plan like they’d never planned before. Brilliant CFOs became a matter of survival. But the pressure to meet expectations for these liquidity professionals meant that many CFOs took early retirement, a career break, or an adjustment in their career direction. An increase of 27.6% of CFOs resigned from S&P 500 companies from 2019 to 2020. As a result, we’re seeing a big focus on filling CFO roles. And what big shoes those are.

Why have these bean counters become so vital, and what does it mean for recruiters and talent acquisition teams?

Why are CFOs Essential for Survival?

Financial expert Paul Ainsworth wrote for Toptal Finance about the evolution of CFOs. He talks about how “older” record-keeping tasks are a critical but minimum requirement. Today’s new CFO applicants need to “drive the direction and success of the organizations they work in using their knowledge and understanding of the financial position of the company.”

The shinier and more evolved role for CFOs is now positioned in top seats as their voices hold volume regarding strategy and decision-making in a business. Plus, they must adjust their plans when environments change or ‘worst-case scenarios’ become a reality. Ainsworth rephrases the job description of CFOs as “business partners to the CEO, who help guide and influence decision making using the financial context as an integral driver of such choices.”

Tips for Recruiting CFOs in Today’s Climate

Recruiting C-level positions requires the most excellent grasp of the role as these “must have” positions come with elevated responsibility for the survival and success of a company.

Know The Updated Desirable Skills in Today’s CFOs

When recruiting for C-level positions, it’s vital to understand what businesses need. With a 6% growth rate in CFO jobs for 2021-2030, we are guaranteed to see fresh, young talent entering the CFO arena. Many of these applicants may have worked at VP finance levels and are seeking to advance to CFOs.

Here are some qualities and skills to seek when sourcing applicants for C-level CFO positions:

  • An understanding and fluency of digital transformation and automation trends and practices
  • Investment knowledge
  • Scenario planning and ability to plan ahead
  • Calm during crisis, and ability to offer examples of how they’ve managed in a high-stress situation
  • Strong financial modeling skills
  • Communication and interpersonal skills for addressing c-suite coworkers
  • Adaptable and a keenness to adopt innovative solutions (future-proofing)
  • Creative problem-solving skills with examples from experience
  • An understanding of talent costs, as well as retaining and acquiring new talent
  • They come with a network of relevant connections in banking, auditors, lawyers, etc

According to Deloitte’s CFO Signals survey, 63% of CFOs mention Financial planning and analysis (FP&A) and 46% of management reporting as their wish list areas for improvement.

Understand Which Questions to Ask

During the interview, gather their stories about how they’ve managed crises and come up with solutions to tricky challenges. How did they lead the team? Offer opportunities for the applicant to talk about how they manage investments, how they determine when credit versus fundraising is essential, and more. Assess their attitude and grasp on innovation that is trending.

CFOs hold leadership positions. It’s vital that they have what it takes to serve as strong business partners.

Do Your Research to Provide a Good Recruitment Process

Recruiting C-level positions can take time, months even. When recruiting, make an effort to research the top candidates and provide a personalized approach. Building relationships benefit agencies. Do this by taking your time and focusing on candidates, communicating where they are in the hiring process. Networking is key when it comes to filling C-level positions.

Hiring CFO Heroes

During extreme inflation and recession prospects, brilliant, forward-thinking CFOs can be the heroes that help a business survive and thrive. Situating yourself as an approachable, invested, and interested recruiter will bring more C-level posts your way. Businesses can then rely on you to bring them “hero” candidates.

Jenna-lea Kelland

Jenna-lea is a freelance content editor, writer, and master multi-tasker based in the wonderful city of Cape Town. She has written about various topics, both in print and online. When the laptop shuts, she enjoys dips in the ocean, thrilling novels, or exploring the coastal towns and foodie hubs with her family.