How to Determine if a Candidate Is the Right CFO For Your Company

How to Determine if a Candidate Is the Right CFO For Your Company

How to Determine if a Candidate Is the Right CFO For Your Company

Appointing a CFO is one of the most crucial hiring decisions you’ll make in your company. It’s vital that you choose the right candidate who can hit the ground running and build a successful working relationship with your CEO and stakeholders. Determining if a candidate is the right CFO for your company is a multi-step process.

The evolution of the role of CFO means that this appointment is becoming even more crucial to business success. A survey by KPMG in 2015 found that over 50% of CEOs pointed to the CFO role as the position that will become the most important in the coming years. This prediction has proven to be true as CFOs are increasingly becoming business leaders and not just bean counters.

Appointing the right CFO can feel as challenging as recruiting a CEO. Many CFOs are now being appointed as potential successors for the role with their influence felt throughout every department. The board, C-suite, and stakeholders need to be confident in a candidate’s ability to deliver.

Streamlining the recruitment process and having the right systems in place is essential to determining if a candidate is the right CFO for your company. Every step – from determining the job description to screening resumes and hosting introductory interviews – plays a role in choosing the best candidate.

At FD Capital, our talent pool of senior financial executives includes part-time, full-time, and interim CFOs. Our financial recruiters will tailor each step of the recruitment process to meet your company’s needs, testing candidates to find the right fit for your organisation.

Start your search for a risk and compliance executive today by contacting our team at or on 020 3287 9501 for a no-obligation consultation.

Choosing the Best Candidate for a CFO Position

Finding the best CFO candidate starts with asking the right questions – and not just during the interview process. We recommend taking a step back and asking what your company needs from a CFO. Gone are the days when CFOs were solely financial appointments. Many are taking on an increasingly strategic role, earning the nickname of ‘Chief Future Officer’ for their role in evolving the company’s image and long-term vision.

CFOs have moved on from being solely financial architects within companies, instead playing an active role in value creation and the company’s long-term success. Developing a job description and an ideal candidate profile can help boost your chances of finding the right CFO early on. Consider aspects like your company’s skills gap and long-term priorities.

While the CFO talent pool is expanding with candidates from non-traditional backgrounds, finding the right CFO can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Most CFOs, particularly those with a finance background, will come with the same skills, knowledge, and qualities. It’s the soft skills that can set candidates apart and allow you to identify the best CFO for your company.

Finding the right CFO can be challenging for start-ups and SMEs on a limited budget. Our part-time and interim CFO opportunities make industry-leading talent more accessible for companies at an earlier stage in their growth cycle.

What to Look for In Your CFO

Before you can start thinking about candidates, you need to establish the role and responsibilities of your CFO and where they’ll fit into your company’s leadership structure. Developing a job description will help to shortlist the best candidates with the most suitable skills and experience.

There are a few specific qualities you want to look out for when recruiting a CFO.

  • Adaptability

Today’s CFOs are expected to hit the ground running with a wider range of roles and responsibilities than ever before. Adaptability is crucial as the best CFOs will be able to respond to market shifts, unforeseen circumstances, and increasing regulatory requirements.

  • Collaborative Skills

A CFO will lead on your company’s financial strategy, requiring them to engage and interact with every department in your company. The right candidate should be comfortable acting as both a leader and a team player.

  • Communication Skills

CFOs act as financial translators for board members, stakeholders, and other company employees. They’ll translate data and financial forecasting, explaining the company’s strategy and its financial situation. Communication skills are therefore vital, as stakeholders want a charismatic CFO that they view as trustworthy and informative.

  • Leadership Ability

A CFO is more than just a leader within the company’s financial department. Many are tipped to become tomorrow’s CEOs and play a crucial role in talent management and acquisition. Candidates with strong leadership abilities are ideal for companies that are quickly expanding and developing a company culture.

  • Problem-Solving Skills

CFOs are problem-solvers in chief. Risk and compliance are the bread and butter for most CFOs, who are expected to navigate their way through tricky financial situations. Candidates with strong problem-solving skills will be able to maintain the company’s financial health and mitigate risks.

  • Strategic Thinking

The best CFO is one who is committed to your company’s long-term growth and development. Identify candidates with strong strategic thinking skills who can align the company’s financial systems, goals, and operations with the company’s long-term strategy and vision.

Recruiting the right CFO is about more than just ticking off a list of skills and experience. You want a candidate who will fit into your company culture and who shares its vision and values.

Define the Role of CFO

Before we start advertising or headhunting for your position, we recommend defining the role of CFO. The position has evolved drastically in the last decade, moving increasingly out of the financial department and into the wider company leadership team. This growth enables companies to define the CFO role to suit their specific needs, challenges, and strategic goals.

Step back and assess the company’s growth challenges and long-term goals when defining the role. The right CFO candidate will have the skills to navigate challenges and pain points while working towards the company’s long-term goals. These challenges and goals should be reflected in your CFO interview questions to test each candidate’s suitability for your company.

Your company’s financial structure will also determine the sort of CFO you recruit. Companies backed by venture capital will want a CFO who can take a hands-on approach to its development, leading on fundraising and attracting new investors. Private equity-backed companies need a CFO with a strong network and track record of building relationships with financial institutions and investors. You’ll want to consider your exit strategy when choosing the right CFO to identify a candidate with the experience and track record to deliver a positive investor story.

Screening Resumes

Each step of the recruitment process should act to further tailor the list of candidates, removing those who don’t meet your company’s needs and progressing with those who tick the boxes.

Having a screening process is vital as it’s the first opportunity to identify candidates who have the rights experience and qualifications that align with the CFO job description. Our CFO recruiters can oversee the screening process for you, digging into the details of the candidate’s previous roles and earmarking any noteworthy achievements. We’ll also screen for educational achievements, industry experience, and professional development.

The screening process is the first opportunity to narrow down the pool of candidates to those who align with your company’s current and future needs. Developing a job description before this stage makes the screening process easier.

CFO Interviews

The interview stage is often the first chance to have a face-to-face interaction with potential candidates. You can determine if a candidate is the right CFO for your company by preparing an in-depth range of questions to measure each candidate against. These questions should probe the candidate’s leadership capabilities, technical knowledge, and industry experience.

Questions should also explore the candidate’s soft skills, including communication, team management, and problem-solving skills. It’s vital that you determine whether a candidate is likely to be the right cultural fit for your company as CFO.

While FD Capital can help you oversee the interview process, we recommend having a diverse range of stakeholders on the interview panel. Multiple points of view from within your company can offer different insights into candidates and increase the probability of finding the right CFO for you.

Reference Checks

Reference checking is another part of the recruitment process that allows you to verify a candidate’s performance history and qualifications. Your FD Capital recruiter will usually oversee this process for you. Reference checking offers a unique insight into the candidate from their previous employers, exploring their performance, character, and work ethic. It’s also an opportunity to explore any issues or inconsistencies that may have come up during the interview process.

You should view reference checks as a form of risk mitigation, ensuring that you make the best informed decision when hiring and minimising potential issues.

Go Beyond Technical Skills

At a CFO level, most of the candidates you’re considering will have the same technical skills and industry experience. Look beyond these to see what sets candidates apart from each other. The modern CFO needs to be data-driven and a team player comfortable taking an increasingly public profile and engaging with stakeholders.

The right CFO for your company will have the adaptability to deal with market disruptions, changing dynamics, and emerging trends. Don’t forget to explore a candidate’s likelihood to fit into your company culture and determine whether they align with your vision and values.

Cultural Fit

Don’t overlook the importance of determining whether a candidate is the right cultural fit for your company. They should fill your skills gap and develop a strong working relationship with your C-suite team, especially the CEO. The CEO-CFO relationship is crucial to the success of any company. That’s why the CEO should set out what they need from a CFO early in the process.

The ideal candidate is someone who will align with the company’s culture, values, and long-term vision. The CFO will play an active role in shaping these throughout their time at the company.

How FD Capital Evaluate Candidates

At FD Capital, our recruiters have tailored our evaluation process to make it adaptable to every client. The first step in our recruitment process is always to discuss the ideal CFO profile with your company, determining what a successful candidate looks like for you.

We start by gathering the data on the candidates and generating profiles through their CVs and other information submitted. Your company may decide to include an online questionnaire as part of the first stage of the hiring process. We’ll consider this data alongside CVs and portfolios when shortlisting.

Our data will assess intellectual capacity, personality traits, and self-awareness among candidates.

We validate this data during the interview stage, which offers an opportunity for candidates to promote their achievements, track record, and industry insight. These interviews will test whether a candidate is ready to hit the ground running and if they align with your company’s vision.

Specific qualities that we look out for include stakeholder engagement. CFOs are increasingly acting as a bridge between stakeholders, the board, and the company itself. They’re expected to translate their financial data and forecasting and explain the company’s strategy.

Other qualities we’ll test for include growth proficiency, dexterity of thought, strategic clarity, and results execution. We’ll utilise the data gathered during the screening, interviews, and referencing stages to determine where a candidate falls on these factors.

The FD Capital team has a wealth of experience in financial recruitment, with members of our leadership team having twenty years of experience. We’ll use our judgment when reporting on candidates and offering advice on shortlisting and selection. Our goal is to help you recruit a candidate who is the right CFO for your company as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Find Your CFO with FD Capital

FD Capital is the UK’s leading boutique financial recruitment agency and a specialist CFO recruiter. Our leadership team include financial professionals and entrepreneurs who bring a unique insight into both sides of the CFO recruitment process.

Start recruiting for a CFO today by contacting our team today at or call us on 020 3287 9501 for a no-obligation consultation.