The financial director, or CFO, plays a pivotal role in the business. Indeed, many would argue that it’s the relationship between the CEO and the financial director that determines the ethos, drive and success of the business. It’s the financial director’s skills and approach that shifts directorship from high-level planning into revenue profit, and indeed, growth.
With financial director roles, we often find that the issue with talent-sourcing comes about partly because of a lack of understanding, by those responsible for recruitment, of the role. It is a complex role and, as such, you need to identify candidates with unique skills and aptitudes. Understanding these, and ensuring your headhunter truly understands these, will give you confidence in your talent acquisition.
The required skillset is broad, but it can be broken down into three core areas:
It’s then important to realise that candidates that fulfil these skillsets aren’t always in abundant supply. Indeed, skills shortages in these areas are not uncommon. This is why it is essential to approach recruitment in a distinctly different way.
You can’t simply write a decent job advert, launch it, and hope you’ll get good candidates for the financial director role. These will only attract active candidates, and this is unlikely to bring you the specific candidate you need. Working with a headhunting service that understands the distinct nature of the financial director role, and your business, will ensure you can source and hire the best candidates, even those who are passive candidates.
This is because a headhunter works distinctly differently. Instead of writing an ad and sitting back for applications to come flowing in, they go out and conscientiously identify and entice the right candidate for you. They learn about the distinct needs, objectives and balance of your business and board, and then identify individuals within and beyond your industry. They carefully negotiate with these individuals to present the opportunity and secure their buy-in.
So, how can you identify the right headhunter for your financial director position?
Once you’ve ascertained that using a headhunter will ensure the best fit candidate for driving the growth and success of your business, it’s time to consider how to choose who to work with. The good news is that it is easier to screen headhunters than recruit financial directors!
It’s essential that you know that your chosen headhunter is capable and reliable, and has a strong track record of success. Ask them specifically about the numbers of financial directors they have recruited in the past and their success. Ask how long those financial directors then stayed in role, and for which types of businesses they’ve worked with. Look for quality over quantity: the financial directors that this headhunter has placed, have they gone on to prove to be a good match and an excellent investment for the business?
Also ask your headhunter about time scales. It’s not unusual to experience a sense of urgency with hiring financial directors, especially if the role has been vacated quickly. It’s a pivotal role that cannot sit empty for long, and which carries enormous risk if not done well. Additionally, it’s not a role that other directors can easily shoulder alongside their own duties. You may need an interim financial director to allow appropriate time to fill the role. Discuss the expected and reasonable time frame with the headhunter so that there’s clarity. You’re looking for the perfect balance of quality placement in as short a time scale as possible.
You also need to discuss fees candidly with the headhunter. Headhunters, on the face of it, do cost more than typical recruitment agencies. They will be working on a retainer, for you, so they are completely invested in getting the right hire. With such crucial roles, this always makes financial sense, and usually saves money in the long run. This is because poor recruitment becomes painfully expensive in a myriad of other ways. However, ensure you have a clear understanding of the headhunter’s fee structure and how it works.
Most critically, ask about the specific headhunter’s process. This will differ between headhunters. Additionally, unfortunately some recruitment agencies call themselves headhunters and you need to sift these out by looking at the process. The process should reveal the dedicated research-based approach. If there’s a huge difference in fees between short-listed headhunters, definitely pay close attention to their different processes to see what you are actually getting.
If you follow the above approach to using a headhunter for your financial director position, you can have confidence that you will find the ideal financial director to drive growth and success in your business.