Whether you’re an ambitious start-up or a growing business looking to scale into different regions, a strong CFO is the monetary mapmaker plotting your path to success.
From managing every dollar with deliberate care to providing financial discipline to your critical business strategies, the CFO is much more than your senior spreadsheet expert—they are the guardians of your company’s economic engine room and fiscal health.
So how do you find the perfect CFO? Start with the right job description. Here’s what we cover.:
- 5 ways a new CFO helps your growing business
- What type of CFO do you want?
- What makes a good CFO job description?
- How to find the perfect person for your CFO role
- Onboard your new CFO properly
- Final thoughts on bringing in the right CFO
There is high demand for top finance talent in the market, and attracting qualified people can be challenging. In fact, 89% of finance and accounting hiring managers are facing challenges finding skilled talent.
One of the key factors in attracting top candidates is a well-crafted job description that accurately reflects the responsibilities and expectations of the role you’re offering.
A job description that is vague or poorly written can discourage qualified candidates from applying. In contrast, a well-crafted job description can set the stage for a successful hiring process.
LinkedIn knows the importance of a job description, and it was very interesting to note candidates shown an extremely casual job post were 4 times more likely to dislike the employer and 2 to 4 times less likely to apply.
5 ways a new CFO helps your growing business
Deciding when the right time is to hire a CFO is vital. They can provide a growing business with the financial expertise and strategic guidance to navigate growth challenges and achieve long-term success.
Lewis Maleh is the founder of executive search firm Bentley Lewis. He says: “Your business may start thinking about hiring its first CFO when it reaches a significant growth and complexity stage in its financial operations.
“This is typically when the company’s revenues and financial responsibilities become too complex for its current financial team to manage efficiently, or they are outsourced, and you want to bring them in-house.
“The need for a CFO may also arise when your company requires access to more capital or needs to improve its financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting processes.”
With a growing business, here are 5 areas where a CFO can help.
Your business becomes more complex and requires a more robust financial strategy. Your new CFO can help develop and implement financial strategies that align with the business’s goals and objectives, pushing initiatives to improve financial performance, reduce costs, and mitigate risks. They can also play a critical role in building relationships with key stakeholders, including investors, regulators, and business partners.
Financial planning and analysis
You want financial insight to inform strategic decision-making. Your CFO should lead in analyzing financial data and trends, helping you make informed decisions about investments, growth opportunities, risk management, budgets, and resource allocation.
As you grow, your business is exposed to newer and bigger risks. The right CFO will help identify and manage these risks by implementing financial controls and processes that mitigate the risk of financial loss.
You may need to raise capital to fund your expansion. A CFO can help manage investor relations by preparing financial reports, budgets, and forecasts that provide transparency and credibility to potential investors.
You become subject to more complex financial regulations and reporting requirements. Your new CFO can help ensure compliance with these regulations and provide guidance on how to navigate the regulatory landscape.
What type of CFO do you want?
Lewis says: “Base your decision to hire a CFO on your needs and growth trajectory. Carefully think it through because they will form a pivotal part of the senior team. Looking to future recruitment, an industry-recognized CFO could provide a very appealing draw to other finance talents who might want to join your organization.”
By finding a candidate who is the right fit for your business in terms of their level of involvement, expertise, and alignment with your goals and values, you can set the stage for long-term financial success and growth.
Businesses will have distinct requirements and expectations regarding the role of their CFO. You may want a CFO who is heavily involved in day-to-day operations, while others might want a CFO who focuses more on strategic financial planning.
If you plan to pursue mergers and acquisitions or chase an Initial Public Offering (IPO), finding a CFO with experience in this area will be important. Similarly, if you operate in a highly regulated industry, you may want a CFO with a strong understanding of regulatory compliance.
Lewis says: “The companies that get it right are those where the boards consider what type of CFO they’re looking for and take the time to ensure the fit is right.
“This depends on what stage of development they’re at. If it’s a first CFO appointment, you will need someone with experience in formalizing and establishing the finance function. If you want to expand into new territories, someone with global expansion experience would be most useful.”
Sage Intacct customer Forecast, for example, hired Simone Goodman as its CFO partly due to her long background in leading high-growth SaaS companies, with 20 years of experience in venture capital-backed and publicly traded companies. This included high-growth companies such as King Digital, the creator of Candy Crush, which achieved explosive revenue growth and an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange.
Forecast’s founder and CEO, Dennis Kayser, directly approached Simone because he believed she was the ideal candidate to spearhead Forecast’s financial strategies and navigate its challenges in driving for its own IPO.
Goals, values, and the CEO-CFO partnership
You’ll also want a CFO’s skill set and experience to go with your goals, culture, and values.
Your new CFO should deeply understand your business model, industry, and competitive landscape while being collaborative enough to work constructively with other leadership team members.
Lewis says that the relationship between CFO and CEO is critical, and often their tenures are intricately linked.
He explains: “It is essential that any hired CFO is not only experienced, but their personal and professional values align with the CEO and organization. These are the foundation for a strong relationship. The wider team will look to the C-Suite for guidance, so all officers must be aligned and pushing in the same direction on a values level.”
What makes a good CFO job description?
Your CFO job description should:
- Paint a picture of a role that is exciting and engaging, with language that reflects that.
- Be accessible and inclusive, avoiding clichés and phrases that might appeal more to one gender than another.
- Have a clear overview of responsibilities is essential, with a focus on tangible outcomes and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).
It’s important to outline what success looks like in the role, so your candidates can get a sense of what they’re working towards. Being direct about the skills and experience required, as well as the type of person you’re looking for, can help.
In addition to crafting a good job description, it’s important to get the job spec advertised on boards and job sites where your target candidates are likely to be looking.
Partnering with recruiters who specialize in executive finance leadership can also be a smart move, as they will have existing networks and can help you to reach a wider pool of candidates.
What to include in a CFO job description with examples
Your CFO job role description will help attract qualified candidates and provide a clear understanding of the expectations and requirements of the position.
We’ve listed key components that outline a CFO’s potential responsibilities, qualifications, and desired skills. When building your CFO job description, feel free to cut and paste the sections relevant to your business below.
Job title and overview
Clearly state the job title and provide a concise overview. In a competitive market the job description should also ‘sell’ the role to potential candidates, so you’ll also want to think about how you stand out from other job descriptions, and what makes this role unique.
Example template copy
The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) will oversee all company financial operations, including financial planning and analysis, accounting, budgeting, and risk management, at an exciting time for the business.
The CFO will report directly to the CEO and work closely with other executive team members to drive financial strategy and business growth, as the company navigates its path as a thriving Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider in a dynamic and competitive market.
With their expertise, the CFO will play a vital role in optimizing the company’s revenue streams, ensuring sustainable profitability, and identifying strategic opportunities for expansion and innovation.
Their insights and collaborative efforts will empower the executive team to make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and position the company for continued success in delivering high-quality solutions to our valued customers.
Outline the primary responsibilities and duties expected of your new CFO. You might want to include areas such as:
- Financial planning and analysis.
- Financial reporting.
- Cash flow management.
- Risk management.
- Financial strategy development.
- Oversight of accounting and tax functions.
Example template copy
The CFO’s objective will be to provide financial leadership and strategic guidance to the business.
The CFO will develop and implement financial strategies that align with the company’s goals and objectives and provide financial insights that inform strategic decision-making.
Your key responsibilities:
- Oversee all financial operations, including financial planning and analysis, accounting, budgeting, and risk management.
- Develop and implement financial strategies that align with the company’s goals and objectives.
- Provide financial insights that inform strategic decision-making.
- Build relationships with key stakeholders, including investors, regulators, and business partners.
- Manage financial reporting and compliance with regulatory requirements.
Qualifications and experience
Specify the educational background and professional qualifications required, such as a bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field.
Mention relevant certifications (e.g., CPA, CMA) or memberships in professional finance organizations.
Indicate the minimum years of experience required, considering factors like executive-level finance experience, leadership roles, and industry-specific knowledge.
Example template copy
- Bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, or a related field; MBA or CPA preferred.
- Minimum of 10 years of experience in finance, with at least 5 years in a senior leadership role.
- Strong understanding of financial planning and analysis, accounting principles, and risk management.
- Experience in developing and implementing financial strategies that align with organizational goals.
- Excellent communication and people skills, with the ability to build relationships with key stakeholders.
- Strong leadership and management skills, with the ability to motivate and inspire a team.
Highlight the essential technical skills necessary for the role. Here are examples of skills you may want your CFO to have. Expand or modify them based on your business requirements.
Example template copy
- Leadership and the board
- Effective communication skills, including clear articulation of complex financial information, persuasive presentation, and active engagement with stakeholders.
- Relationship building with board members and executives, facilitation of collaboration and teamwork, development of networks and external partnerships.
- Ability to inspire and motivate teams, influence strategic decision-making, and effectively manage conflicts and foster consensus.
- Financial analysis
- Demonstrated ability to analyze financial data, identify key insights, and provide strategic recommendations.
- Proficiency in conducting financial statement analysis, variance analysis, and ratio analysis.
- Knowledge of financial performance metrics and the ability to effectively interpret and communicate financial results.
- Financial modeling
- Proficiency in building and maintaining financial models to support forecasting, budgeting, and scenario analysis.
- Experience in developing dynamic financial models that incorporate various business drivers and assumptions.
- Ability to create accurate and reliable financial projections and sensitivity analyses.
- Strong understanding of forecasting methodologies and techniques.
- Experience developing short-term and long-term financial forecasts considering market trends, industry dynamics, and business objectives.
- Ability to assess risks and uncertainties and incorporate them into the forecasting process.
- Financial software systems
- Proficiency in working with financial software systems, including enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms and financial management software.
- Experience implementing, customizing, and optimizing ERP systems to support finance and accounting functions.
- Knowledge of popular financial software packages (e.g. Sage Intacct) and the ability to use their features for efficient financial management.
- Expertise in accounting principles and regulations
- Strong understanding of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).
- Knowledge of regulatory requirements and compliance, including Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) and relevant tax regulations.
- Ability to ensure accurate financial reporting and compliance with accounting standards and regulations.
Leadership and management skills
Emphasize the desired leadership management requirements. Here are examples you can use in terms of the responsibilities you want your CFO to have.
Example template copy
- Provide strategic financial guidance and leadership to the executive team and the board of directors.
- Lead the finance team, providing mentorship and guidance to foster a high-performance culture.
- Collaborate cross-functionally with other departments to align financial goals and strategies with overall business objectives.
- Develop and implement financial policies, procedures, and internal controls to ensure compliance and mitigate risks.
- Drive the strategic financial planning process, including long-term financial projections, capital allocation, and investment analysis.
- Evaluate and optimize the company’s capital structure, financing options, and working capital management.
- Monitor and analyze financial performance, providing insights and recommendations for continuous improvement.
- Stay updated on industry trends, economic factors, and regulatory changes that impact the company’s financial operations.
- Represent the company in financial matters with external stakeholders, including investors, auditors, and regulatory bodies.
Specify any distinct industry experience or knowledge relevant to your sector, whether finance experience within healthcare, technology, manufacturing, or any other relevant industry.
Let’s say we’re hunting for a SaaS CFO.
Example template copy
- Proven experience as a CFO or senior finance executive in the SaaS industry.
- A deep understanding of SaaS business models, revenue recognition, and subscription-based metrics.
- Strong leadership skills and the ability to drive financial strategies specific to the SaaS sector.
- Exceptional financial analysis and modeling skills with a focus on SaaS metrics.
- Excellent understanding of ASC 606 revenue recognition standards and their application to SaaS businesses.
- Proficiency in financial management software systems and advanced proficiency in Microsoft Excel.
- Outstanding communication and presentation skills, capable of conveying complex financial concepts to financial and non-financial stakeholders.
- Experience in managing investor relations and raising capital in the SaaS industry.
Include soft skills valuable in a CFO role.
Example template copy
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Demonstrated ability to identify complex financial challenges, analyze various options, and develop innovative solutions.
- Proven track record of making sound financial decisions based on thorough analysis and critical thinking.
- Ability to navigate ambiguity and effectively solve problems in a dynamic business environment.
- Analytical skills
- Strong quantitative and analytical skills with the ability to interpret and synthesize financial data to drive strategic decision-making.
- Experience in financial analysis, scenario modeling, and risk assessment to optimize financial performance.
- Proficiency in using financial software and advanced Excel functions to extract insights from data.
- Ability to thrive in a fast-paced and rapidly changing business environment.
- Proven track record of adapting quickly to new technologies, processes, and industry trends.
- Comfortable with ambiguity and able to adjust strategies and priorities as needed.
- Attention to detail
- Keen eye for detail and commitment to accuracy in financial reporting and analysis.
- Ability to meticulously review financial statements, forecasts, and budgets to identify discrepancies or errors.
- Strong organizational skills to effectively manage multiple financial tasks and deadlines simultaneously.
- Ability to work under pressure
- Demonstrated ability to perform effectively and make informed decisions in high-pressure situations.
- Experience managing critical financial initiatives, such as fundraising, acquisitions, or financial crises.
- Strong resilience and composure to navigate and lead during challenging times.
Indicate the reporting structure, including who the new CFO will report to and which departments or teams they will have a direct influence on.
Example template copy
The CFO will report directly to the CEO and Founder and be a key executive leadership team member.
They will provide financial insights and strategic guidance, working cross-functionally with the following teams:
- Finance and accounting
- Oversee the finance and accounting department, including financial operations, financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting.
- Collaborate with the finance team to ensure accurate financial records, compliance with regulations, and timely financial reporting.
- Sales and business development
- Work closely with the sales and business development teams to provide financial analysis and insights on pricing strategies, customer acquisition costs, and revenue growth opportunities.
- Evaluate the financial viability of new business initiatives, partnerships, and customer contracts.
- Operations and supply chain
- Collaborate with the operations and supply chain teams to optimize cost management, inventory control, and vendor relationships.
- Provide financial analysis and insights on operational efficiencies, supply chain optimization, and cost-saving initiatives.
- The HR and People team
- Collaborate with the HR department on compensation strategies, benefits planning, and overall workforce management from a financial perspective.
- Provide financial insights on talent acquisition costs, retention strategies, and employee compensation packages.
- Investor relations
- Manage relationships with investors, including venture capital firms, private equity partners, and potential stakeholders.
- Provide financial updates and insights to investors, participate in fundraising activities, and contribute to investor presentations.
Company culture and values
Briefly describe your culture and values to give potential candidates an idea of your overall ethos. This is specific to what you offer as a business—and your opportunity to make your ‘pitch’ to potential candidates.
Example template copy
Culture of innovation
- We foster a culture of innovation, collaboration, and excellence.
- We believe in creating a work environment that encourages creativity, continuous learning, and teamwork.
- Our employees are at the heart of our success, and we value their contributions and dedication.
- We embrace a fast-paced and dynamic environment that encourages fresh ideas and bold thinking.
- We strive for innovation in every aspect of our business, from our products and services to our internal processes and operations.
- We encourage our team members to challenge the status quo, take calculated risks, and solve complex problems creatively.
Growth and development
- We believe in investing in our employees’ growth and development. We provide opportunities for continuous learning, professional development, and career advancement.
- Our employees can access training programs, workshops, and mentorship to enhance their skills and expand their knowledge.
Diversity and inclusion
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to our company values. We celebrate and respect our employees’ unique perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences.
- We are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where everyone feels empowered to contribute their best and thrive personally and professionally.
- You will have the opportunity to contribute to a company with a vibrant culture, exceptional opportunities for growth, and a mission to drive positive change in the world.
- A clear mission drives us: To positively impact the world through our innovative solutions.
- We are passionate about helping our clients succeed and empowering them to achieve their goals.
- We are proud of our positive influence on our clients, industries, and communities.
Provide details on how candidates can apply for the position, including submission instructions and any additional requirements like cover letters or references.
Example template copy
To apply for the position of CFO, please follow the instructions below.
Please submit your updated resume highlighting your relevant experience, qualifications, and achievements. Ensure your resume includes your full name, contact information, educational background, and professional experience.
Please compile your resume.
Submit your application by email to [contact email].
Use the subject line: “CFO Application – [Your Full Name]”.
The application deadline for this position is [mention deadline date].
We may not consider applications received after the deadline.
Note: We will only contact shortlisted candidates for further assessment and interviews. All information provided during the application process will be treated confidentially and used solely to evaluate your candidacy.
We appreciate your interest in joining us as our CFO. We look forward to reviewing your application and considering you for this exciting opportunity.
If you have any questions or need further clarification, please don’t hesitate to contact us at [contact phone number] or [contact email].
How to find the perfect person for your CFO role
An extensive candidate search is essential when recruiting a CFO because it allows you to identify a wide range of potential candidates and find the best fit for your needs. Here are effective recruiting strategies to consider with your recruiter.
Contact your professional networks, including industry associations, professional organizations, and business contacts, to identify potential candidates.
Use LinkedIn and other social media platforms to expand your search and connect with candidates who may not be actively looking for a new position.
Use executive search firms
Consider partnering with an executive search firm that specializes in CFO recruitment.
These firms may have access to a wide network of candidates and help you headhunt top executive talent. They can also provide valuable insights into market trends and compensation packages.
Lewis Maleh says: “Because relationships are so important at the C-suite level, recruiting for a CFO requires a tailored, personalized approach. Collaborating with experienced executive recruiters in your industry can be useful for uncovering potential candidates. An external perspective is also useful for determining what you need to manage the entire process.”
Conduct thorough interviews and assessments
Once you have identified potential candidates, conduct thorough interviews and assessments to evaluate their skills, experience, and fit with the organization.
Be sure to ask open-ended questions that allow candidates to highlight their critical and strategic-thinking skills. Use behavioral assessments and reference checks to gain insight into the candidate’s work style and performance.
Offer competitive compensation packages
It’s important to offer competitive compensation packages to attract top CFOs. Consider offering a combination of base salary, bonuses, and equity to incentivize the candidate to join the organization.
Onboard your new CFO properly
A well-planned onboarding process is critical for your new CFO because it sets the foundation for their success and helps them integrate into your business quickly and effectively.
A well-planned onboarding process can help your new CFO get up to speed quickly and contribute to your success faster. It will allow your new CFO to start building relationships with key stakeholders, including members of the leadership team, finance, and other departments. A successful onboarding process can help the new CFO feel more connected to your business and reduce the likelihood of turnover.
To successfully integrate a new CFO into the organization, consider the following.
Assign a mentor to the new CFO who can provide guidance and support during the onboarding process. The mentor can help them navigate the company, understand the culture, and provide insights into the role.
Set clear expectations
Communicate the expectations for your new CFO’s role and responsibilities. Set goals and objectives for the first 90 days and beyond.
Provide access to necessary resources
Ensure your new CFO has access to the resources they need to succeed—financial systems, data, and reports, as well as other necessary tools and technologies.
Schedule regular check-ins
Schedule regular check-ins with the new CFO to provide feedback and support.
Your CFO might want to set up weekly or bi-weekly 1-2-1 meetings with their manager and regular meetings with other leadership team members.
Encourage your new CFO to network with other members of your company, including finance team members, other departments, and external stakeholders.
Help them build relationships and gain a better understanding of what the business is all about
Final thoughts on bringing in the right CFO
Each CFO candidate brings unique skills, experience, and perspective. Think carefully about what you need from your CFO, from the level of involvement and specific expertise to their alignment with your company’s goals, values, and culture.
Creating an effective CFO job description is an essential part of this process, and it needs to reflect your unique requirements and company culture.
Your recruitment strategy should encompass various methods, including professional networks, executive search firms, and comprehensive interviews and assessments.
Soft skills, and alignment with the company’s strategic vision could be just as important as financial acumen.
Using the template CFO copy and insights presented in this article, find your perfect CFO, and maximize their contribution.
Be thorough, thoughtful, and strategic—your company’s financial future could depend on it.
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