Friday, March 8, 2013

10 Criteria for Hiring a CFO for Your Company

To insure successful business management, the CEO or board of directors must insure that the finance management role meets several criteria:
  1. Understands the “tone at the top” principle and becomes the evangelist for it throughout the company;
  2. Possesses expertise and experience in all areas of financial management for guiding the organization’s financial affairs;
  3. Ensures appropriate oversight over financial performance and be a resource for interpretation of general accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS);
  4. Values sound policies and practices and internal controls;
  5. Provides visibility and encouragement for proper governance of financial matters;
  6. Exhibits leadership that gives equal standing and voice in executive strategic decision-making;
  7. Expresses capacity to address the challenges to financial issues and mediates them to the benefit of all functions and the entire organization;
  8. Exercises leadership to oversee accounting for resources, resources allocation, strategic management, and related matters;
  9. Exhibits an entrepreneurial attitude that reflects ownership;
  10. Possesses and voices a business management vision that drives action and results;
Financial management is collaborative and requires leadership participation but primarily a highly active role from the one whose expertise and experience drives the money train. The finance manager leads by example not only by being the champion of sound financial practices but also by practicing them himself. The financial manager has the capability to visualize the whole picture without sacrificing the details and casts a strategic financial vision for company resources, risk management, and wealth creation. A firm but inviting hand gives respect for financial matters and it communicates and champions the importance of stewardship, responsibility, and accountability. This is what Rose Hightower refers to as “governance.” It encompasses the strategic, tactical, and operational portions of the business.

Steven Bragg emphasizes several of these criteria in writing, “…it is critical to have the complete support of the top management team” for the successful implementation of best practices. Strong leadership that guides the tone at the top, experience and expertise, and placing value on best practices must be well ingrained in the finance manager for financial management to be successful. To the degree any one of these essentials are reduced or missing, the business will fail to value sound financial management. When such importance becomes reduced, the firm will suffer substantial setbacks in its growth, market presence, mission, and goal attainment.

The CFO is the finance leader of the company.  This role requires experience, expertise, and the education to deep dive into the challenging issues facing the business.  This role also must approach this leadership with strength, collaboration, and a sense of market and operational strategic direction for guiding the company toward growth and wealth creation for shareholders.

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