How to find Portfolio FD work
I have been working as an CFO with FD Capital since 2018 and thought it would help others if I shared my experience of how to find Portfolio FD work. First off the traditional recruitment agencies are a great start, but not that many run roles that match a Portfolio FD spec and they mostly for that same reason focus onto full time traditional FD roles. So typically roles will be presented along the lines its great that you can start next week, but when can you commit to full time? That said I’ve picked up a number of roles through my agency contacts so it is a valuable source of work and network connections and certainly not to be discounted. If you are starting out as a Portfolio FD for the first time getting a role this way maybe your only initial way in.
The main way to find roles however is by developing your own network, private equity houses work very well for me and I am building my contacts within those all of the time. Attending events organised by banks and Audit firms are another way, I have good links with EY and KPMG which help and they kindly have put me in touch or at least put in good words for me with a few key employers.
I can recommend Meetup which is an events platform covering a wide range of topics with entrepreneurial networking events being one, I go along to a few of these where it matches my diary often I have a day free per week so I try and make best use of that day to meet people and attend breakfast and other events. All sorts of people go along to these and you never know what contacts you can pickup which may be of use for clients anyway.
Developing your networking skills can be a challenge but after a while you find you can improve and make a better impression with some practice and of course a few mistakes along the way.
If you are looking for Portfolio FD roles or a regular FD one then talk with FD Capital, they are a Finance Director network, which means they are Finance Directors themselves and at the same time employee others to service their client needs. They also offer a referral scheme so if you find work but can’t fulfill it yourself and they can, you’ll earn a commission based on the day rate. Its a winning arrangement all around
Linkedin is a good channel, but it really takes time to develop a network. You need to spend some time each day reaching out to new contacts, arranging chats and meetings, then keep reminding them of your interest. I have picked 8 or 9 opportunities through using Linkedin so it does work, but that is after many hundreds of hours of active messaging and pitching opportunities. Make sure to tweak your Linkedin profile so it presents you as looking for Portfolio work.
Private equity houses and venture capitalists have many ideal opportunities but they are difficult to break into and whilst they have significant funds under management that doesn’t necessarily translate into large numbers of Portfolio FD opportunities at any particular point in time. Sometimes you need more than one contact within each PE house, as I’ve found that each partner and associate has their own network and tend to stick with them, which then means opportunities may arise you but don’t get to hear of them.
Portfolio FD work tends to be somewhat Feast and Famine like, a lot of work comes at once, you get fully busy and ease back or stop your own marketing, then the opportunities come to an end and you suddenly need to pick back up with your networking. For this reason its best to aim to work 4 days per week, leaving a day per week free for networking and marketing, that way you always keep a pipeline of opportunities developing. This is another benefit of working with a network, not only do you have a group of people you can turn to for help and advice but there is a way to subcontract out work you can’t undertake yourself.
Job boards can also work, I use GAAPweb and Exec-Appointments each week, plus a number of boards dedicated for public appointments as I have 18 years of public sector experience as well as private sector, and whilst these don’t have many part time roles, between them there will usually be one or two opportunities per week. Mostly these are in London but not always. Generally I don’t get roles directly from them, but I pick up contacts who have part-time roles, which then in future can turn into sources of work, for either myself or the wider FD Capital network.
A good feature of Portfolio work is that the day rate is good, typically I charge £750 per day in London and £600 outside of London, so whilst only working on average 4 days per week, this still works out to around £125,000 per annum, which is better than my previous average salaried roles of around £85,000, though I don’t get benefits unless I choose to pay for them myself. As I getting towards the end of my working career I put close to the maximum into my personal SIPP so I can retire in around 4 or 5 years time. If you work hard at networking, its possible to make £500 or so per week regularly from introduction commissions or day rate percentages. We work with a more general recruitment agency which can help with non-finance director roles, such as Finance managers or Financial controllers, this works well and is a great two way street, we pass them junior roles and they share their more senior ones with us in turn.
I hear of Portfolio CFO’s charging as much as £1,500 per day, but that is rare and almost always that is for the AIM or fully floated companies and for roles based in London, FD Capital does offer CFO roles so if you are a CFO or looking to recruit one make sure to reach out to the team. You can learn more about FD Capital CFO recruitment here.