5 Skills To Look For When Hiring A CFO

Unveiling the Controller’s Toolkit: Essential Skills for Effective Financial Control


Are you a hiring manager or CEO looking to hire a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for your organization? If you answered yes, then you understand the importance of finding the right candidate for this critical role. 

The CFO oversees the financial operations of your company. He makes strategic financial decisions and ensures the financial health of your organization. However, with so many candidates available in the job market, it can be challenging to identify the right person for the job. In this blog post, we will discuss five essential skills to consider when hiring a CFO. 


1. Financial Expertise

The CFO manages a company’s financial resources and ensures it stays financially sound. Therefore, a CFO needs to possess strong financial expertise. Here are some of the critical areas of financial expertise to look for when hiring a CFO:

  • Accounting and financial reporting: The CFO should deeply understand accounting principles, financial statements, and financial reporting regulations. They should also be able to provide accurate and timely financial information to support decision-making.
  • Financial strategy and planning: The CFO should have experience developing and implementing financial strategies aligning with the company’s goals and objectives. They should be able to provide insights and recommendations on improving financial performance and mitigating financial risks.
  • Budgeting and forecasting: The CFO should have expertise in budgeting and forecasting techniques and tools. They should be able to develop accurate and realistic budgets and forecasts that support the company’s growth and profitability.

2. Strategic Thinking

A CFO’s role goes beyond managing a company’s financials. They are expected to have a strategic outlook and provide insight into its performance. Here are some key points to consider when assessing a candidate’s strategic thinking skills:

  • Business acumen. The candidate should understand the company’s business model, industry, market trends, and competitors. This will enable them to develop financial strategies that align with the overall business goals.
  • Innovation: Innovation is a crucial skill for a CFO. They must generate creative and unconventional solutions to financial issues. Successful innovation requires thinking outside the box and taking calculated risks. 
  • Critical thinking. The candidate should analyze complex financial data and identify potential opportunities and risks. 

3. Leadership and Management Skills

A CFO should have excellent leadership and management skills to lead a team of financial professionals. They should be able to manage teams, delegate tasks, and mentor team members to ensure the financial operations run smoothly.

Assessing candidates’ leadership and management skills is important during the hiring process. Consider asking questions about their experience and abilities to lead and manage teams. Examples of such questions include:

  1. How do you delegate tasks to your team members and ensure they complete them on time?
  2. How do you handle team conflicts and ensure everyone works towards a common goal?
  3. How do you measure your team’s performance, and what steps do you take to address any issues or areas for improvement?

4. Communication Skills

Effective communication is crucial for a CFO when conveying financial information to stakeholders. A CFO’s communication skills will impact how stakeholders perceive their decisions. Here are some reasons why communication skills are crucial for CFO:

  • Presenting financial information: CFOs are responsible for presenting complex financial information to various stakeholders, such as board members, investors, and employees. Communication skills are essential to convey financial data clearly and concisely.
  • Building relationships: CFOs must build strong relationships with stakeholders to ensure the organization’s financial goals are aligned. Strong communication skills are necessary to establish trust, negotiate effectively, and build collaborative partnerships.
  • Leading teams: CFOs often lead teams of financial professionals, and effective communication is critical to providing direction, guidance, and feedback. They must communicate their expectations clearly and ensure that team members understand their roles and responsibilities.
  • Managing crises: CFOs may have to navigate challenging financial crises, mergers, acquisitions, or regulatory issues. Strong communication skills are crucial to managing these situations effectively and ensuring stakeholders are informed and reassured.

Examples of Communication Skills to Assess

  • Ability to simplify complex financial information. A CFO must explain financial information in simple terms. You want your stakeholders to understand various financial details of the company.
  • Interpersonal skills. A CFO should have strong interpersonal skills. They must have the ability to build relationships and negotiate with stakeholders.
  • Presentation skills. A CFO must present financial information verbally and visually to engage and inform stakeholders.

When assessing a candidate’s communication skills, ask questions to see if they can explain financial ideas in a simple way. You can also ask about their experience working with investors, partners, and lenders to build relationships.

5. Adaptability and Flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility are crucial skills for any CFO. The business environment can be unpredictable, so an adaptable CFO will significantly help you. Here are some key points to consider when assessing a candidate’s adaptability and flexibility:


1. Ability to Adapt to Changing Situations

Adapting to change is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment. Look for candidates who can quickly adjust to new situations and solve unexpected problems creatively. Ask candidates when they had to pivot in response to a change or solve a problem that wasn’t part of their job description. Candidates comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty are often best suited for flexible roles.


2. Capacity to Work in a Fast-paced Environment

Some roles require candidates to work in fast-paced environments where priorities can shift quickly. It’s essential to look for candidates who can work well under pressure and handle multiple tasks simultaneously. 

Ask candidates about their experience working in fast-paced environments and how they manage competing priorities. Candidates who are organized, able to prioritize tasks effectively, and work well under pressure are often well-suited for roles that require adaptability and flexibility.


Final Thoughts

Hiring the right CFO is critical to the success of your business. To find the right candidate for this crucial role, we have highlighted the top five skills to consider in a candidate, which include:

  • Financial expertise, 
  • Strategic thinking, 
  • Leadership, communication, and 
  • Adaptability skills. 

Remember to evaluate each candidate’s qualifications and experience to ensure they fit your organization. Prioritizing the hiring process and investing in the right candidate will help your company achieve its financial goals and thrive in today’s competitive business environment.

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