52. 5 Questions You Simply Must Ask When Hiring A CFO

When you are looking to tighten the financial aspects of your business it is always best to look for a quality Chief Financial Officer, or “CFO”. A person in this position must have particular qualities and you should have a certain vibe when you meet them. Otherwise you will find that the working relationship is not profitable – for either party.

So here our 5 questions you must ask when choosing your CFO.

1. Can You Work With Them?

It is critical that you consider whether you can work with the individual. New employees often fail because there is a cultural misalignment between the new hire and the organisation. This often results in a personality clash that can be disruptive to staff performance and productivity and can be a root cause for work related stress and increase staff absenteeism.

Knowing whether you can work with an individual is never going to be something you can glean from a CV or resume. Instead you need to meet your shortlist of CFO candidates, perhaps several times, to know whether or not you will be able to work with them, and them with you.

That is why we at Tectona Partnership explicitly offer the opportunity for the management team to meet our CFO in a non-work environment prior to committing–and at Tectona’s cost (be that a round of drinks, round of golf or a meal).

2. Do They Have The Right Skills And Experience?

A key element of a high quality CFO candidate is relevant skills and experience. Firstly, they should have a wide range of experiences that include positions in different organisations (ideally of different sizes) and teams. They will then have a broad understanding of what other employees in your company go through on a daily basis.

At the same time, a CFO needs to be able to communicate clearly and concisely with all levels of your organisation. Having a strong set of communication skills is therefore very important. Sending out a message that is interpreted incorrectly can cause massive problems between your senior management and members of your staff.

If your business is international, then effective communication is even more important to include members across the world with regards to both personal and cultural values.

They should also have strong corporate awareness. Every business has a unique operational process and a new CFO will have to adapt – quickly recognising what is important for your business. They will also need to develop plans that are aligned with your own personal values and can support your business through its intended growth. Otherwise you could be sending a mixed message to your customers and other key stakeholders.

3. Will The Candidate Improve My Team And Business?

At the end of the day, a CFO is an investment for your business and like all good investments they must add value. Therefore, you need to know what the CFO can offer that will improve your business.  Perhaps they have experience in reducing costs within similar operations or in finding tax reductions that those who already manage your financial dealings have not yet identified.

The right CFO will need to be able to demonstrate credibility managing external relationships, for example, investors and funders.

Hiring a CFO will make the business more responsive in financial matters and will offer you more time to concentrate on those areas where you can really add value(i.e. sales, production, etc). and which will support the growth of your business.

4. Are They A Leader?

CFOs need to be leaders. They will need to lead their teams and direct others across your business in taking actions that they might not have otherwise embarked upon. This requires a significant amount of leadership skill and presence.

If your CFO is a follower, then they will be reluctant to initiate new programs within your organisation and you will see limited returns from their appointment.

5. Will They Challenge The Status Quo?

Businesses that do not change are often the ones that fail in the long term – standing still is simply no longer an option. Blockbuster, Woolworths, HMV and are classic examples where businesses have failed to adapt to changing economic and consumer trends. .

A CFO must be able to challenge (even the CEO) if they feel there are better options. This is the only way businesses will grow and adapt. Of course, a CFO must also be able to demonstrate why they feel they have a better option and this should always be backed up with evidence – though gut feelings should never be underestimated in business.


A CFO is a critical appointment in your organisation. The right one will help you take your business to the next level. However, their appointment will only be successful if they are the right fit for your business.  Ask yourself the 5 questions above when hiring or outsourcing a CFO and use them to identify which candidate is right for you.

And if you would like more help or guidance in getting the right CFO for you why not contact Tectona by Clicking Here.

Posted in FD Role, People and Leadership, Tectona Ten - Strategic Leadership.

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