The answers you need before hiring an interim CFO
If you’ve thought about using virtual CFO services, I recommend doing due diligence on your candidate and asking the following questions. The qualified interim CFO you choose should be able to respond positively to 90% of the qualifications listed below.
- Does the virtual CFO have hands-on experience in working with a company of your size and is he or she accustomed to the type of company culture you provide?
- Does the virtual CFO have experience in your specific industry? If not, does he or she have the breadth and equivalence of experience necessary to serve your company?
- Does the virtual CFO have experience in defining and implementing key productivity and financial indicators, and the requisite skills to track the indicators to keep the CEO informed?
- Does the virtual CFO have experience in delivering clean, lean Executive Summary financial information, with commentary regarding tracking and trends, so that the CEO can easily understand where his company stands and what the numbers mean to make informed decisions?
- Is the virtual CFO candidate willing to discuss the two or three most challenging situations he or she has worked on and how those challenges were resolved on behalf of their clients?
- Does the virtual CFO have experience in working with bankers, lawyers, outside accountants and other professional service providers on behalf of the company he serves? If so, what did that experience entail – i.e. experience in mergers and acquisitions?
- Has the interim CFO worked side-by-side in the trenches with CEOs and done the job he was needed to do? Does he have proof of the CEO’s satisfaction through a series of outstanding references given across time and industry?
- Does your interim CFO feel that timely and accurate record keeping is equally as important as forward-looking financial strategies and planning – or does he or she give more emphasis to one over the other? The answer should indicate balance, and not weighting one over the other.
- Does the interim CFO have experience in resolving bottlenecks in company productivity and financial management issues?
- Will the interim CFO candidate readily discuss your situation before coming on-board so you have a clear understanding that he or she has a clear understanding of your challenges?
- Does the interim CFO have repeat clients and long-term professional relationships?
These are some of the main qualifications you should look for when hiring virtual CFO services.
When the news broke about Steve Jobs retiring from Apple, many were disappointed and left confused. This is not because Jobs was a terrible leader or was in danger of sinking the stock of the company. It is because we are losing one of the sharpest minds and talented entrepreneurs we have seen in our lifetimes.
Steve Jobs means so much more to Apple than a Chief Executive Officer. Additionally, he means so much more to the world than another techie wearing jeans and a black turtleneck. He is an innovator capable of enrapturing audiences everywhere with his notions that become reality. This innovation has led to the financial stability and rapid growth of Apple, but it must be maintained in the generations to come.
“Innovation can’t be forced”
I read an editorial in the Chicago Tribune titled “Be like Steve” and found this statement to be the most powerful line in the article – “…innovation can’t be forced”. The same goes for financial success, financial strategy and financial models. You cannot force a company to become profitable, but having the assistance of a professional who can apply solid principles and strategies to weather unpredictable storms and challenges of business will reinforce the prominence of your company.
So, what is the value of innovation to your customers?
Most small business entrepreneurs do not have to worry about the stock valuation of their company because they are not publically traded. However, small business owners should focus on the value of innovation to their customers and clients. And, this innovation should extend beyond the expertise of your CEO.
Is your CEO the backbone of your organization? If so, your company’s value may not be as stable as originally believed. When a CEO is very hands-on and he or she connects with most of the clients on a regular basis, there may be some customers who will not be happy to suddenly begin working with a different leader, and as a result, may take their business elsewhere.
If enough clients leave, it is possible that the company will face some financial setbacks.
Think bigger to grow stronger
My challenge to small businesses is to think bigger and grow stronger. When you build a long-term financial model for your company, you are more likely to survive the bad times and focus on future growth instead of minor setbacks. For Apple, the resignation of Steve Jobs is just a minor setback because they have planned future product and service releases well in advance and employ one of the seemingly most forward thinking teams to drive the trends we enjoy today.