Companies Return to Hiring CFOs with Strategic Acumen

The constant change in the economic and business environments is frequently changing the kind of skills companies are looking for in finance leaders, reports CFO Magazine, noting that strategic acumen is now edging past capital-raising skills.


“There's been a quick sunset on the need for capital-markets expertise,” says Peter McLean, head of the financial officers practice at Korn/Ferry International.  According to the magazine, Mclean was a panelist at last week’s CFO Rising West conference in Las Vegas. “We're back to a focus on strategic and operational CFOs, real business people who have proven they are effective at driving value,” says McLean during the question-and-answer session with Lori Calabro, editorial director of CFO Conferences.


According to McLean, the recession has created a flood of available talent and, thus, has prompted recruiters to search longer because of a wider range of people available for hiring. “They're not settling for the candidates presented on the first slate,” he says.


Another panelist,  Christopher Langhoff, which leads the financial officers practice at Russell Reynolds, says that while capital-markets experience is more important than it used to be, what a lot of companies are looking for is the ability to communicate and interact with all the economic stakeholders. “The ability to own those relationships and represent the company well gives CEOs a sense of comfort that they need right now,” says Langhoff.


The third panelist, Michele Heid of Heidrick & Struggles, says that CEOs want CFOs who have upward potential.  “They want somebody who has not only the technical capabilities but also leadership ability and who can move up to be COO, president, divisional president, or even CEO.”

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