When searching for a new CFO, look beyond their technical skills to determine whether they have soft skills like honesty and resiliency that are necessary to represent your business well and build a positive environment that leads to continued success.
Look for These Four Soft Skills in CFO Candidates
Few positions are as critical to a business’s success as the chief financial officer. The CFO must optimize the financial performance of the company, which requires a high level of skill in business planning, budgeting, forecasting, management, and negotiations.
When searching for your next CFO, you might be tempted to focus on those responsibilities and determine which candidate has the most experience and financial acumen. Does the candidate have a CPA, CMA or MBA? Do they have at least a decade of experience in finance and management? Which planning, budgeting, and other financial tools are they comfortable with using?
What’s easy to overlook is the importance of other skills—specifically soft skills. Yes, the CFO you hire must be experienced and technically qualified for the job. But, to represent your business well and build a positive working environment that leads to long-term success, you’ll also want to be sure that you’re hiring a CFO with at least these four soft skills.
Honesty and integrity
Like other senior leaders at your business, the CFO must be honest and have the integrity necessary to make difficult decisions and have challenging conversations with the best interests of the business in mind.
In your interviews, ask candidates about ethical challenges they’ve faced and how they’ve responded to better understand their value system and whether it aligns with your own.
CFOs work with numbers, but their position is really all about connecting with people—whether they’re leading a team, presenting to the board, making recommendations to the CEO, or negotiating with suppliers.
Ask CFO candidates how they perceive their work. If they focus solely on the technical side, it may indicate that their priorities are out of line with the people-oriented reality of the job.
“Resilience” is an overused term at the moment, but it is nonetheless an essential quality of successful CFOs. We all face criticism as individuals, and businesses inevitably confront challenges that require adaptability.
By asking candidates about challenges they’ve faced in their life and career, you can gain a sense of whether they have a growth mindset and the resilience necessary to bounce back from hardships.
CFOs must lead the financial and accounting team, so be sure to ask not only about how much leadership experience they have but also about their approach to leadership. Have they grown as a leader, and if so how? Another important question to ask that reveals leadership is whether they enjoy mentoring others, and if have they successfully helped others rise in their careers.
Get the support you need
BST offers a broad portfolio of accounting and auditing, tax, consulting, and wealth management services, as well as valuation, forensic accounting, and litigation support. We also offer CFO for Hire, an outsourced operational accounting and management resource that includes CFOs as well as controllers, senior accountants, and bookkeeping specialists who can provide the expertise you need to reach your growth potential.