The CFO role is no longer focused solely on finance, and corporate recruiters expect finance chiefs to possess a new set of skills to be considered for a top position.
If a company hires a CFO who doesn’t possess the right skills, the business will immediately suffer, according to Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half.
His executive search agency has placed hundreds of finance chiefs and finance executives with companies located around the world.
Business Insider spoke with McDonald about the most important skills recruiters look for in finance executives. He broke them down into three distinct areas of concentration.
1. Strong business acumen across all departments.
Today’s CFOs must have a broad view of the organisation. No longer can they focus solely on tasks that need to be completed by the finance department.
CFOs should use their understanding of a company’s financial position to “enhance the overall health of their company, from finances to compliance to staff morale,” McDonald says.
In today’s market, stakeholders, investors, the board, the CEO, and employees throughout the organisation are relying on the CFO to provide far-reaching vision for the company. They must also provide the strategies needed to make their vision a reality.
2. Excellent communication skills.
CFOs are no longer isolated to the finance function because they “need to effectively present to and influence a broad range of groups, who often don’t possess a financial background,” McDonald says.
A finance chief must be able to translate financial data into key metrics and action items that their audience can understand.
“At the same time, they are collaborating with diverse departments internally. Without relationship-building skills, diplomacy, and tact, cross-functional initiatives will fail,” McDonald explains.
3. Influence the business by collecting the right information.
The CFO is now largely responsible for guiding non-finance-based departments. They most often find themselves working closely with human resources and information technology.
McDonald suggests that finance chiefs need to “use their financial management experience to shape strategy.”
“To be truly influential, finance leaders also need to be good listeners, taking into consideration the feedback of experts in other parts of the business, asking good questions, and avoiding jumping to conclusions before they have all the information,” McDonald says.
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