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How to outperform your CFO competition

Imagine your company is acquired. If that happens, the acquirers will probably need only one CFO, maybe you will take the role or maybe you will have to look for a new job. Either way, hiring processes have become harder and sooner or later you will probably have to outperform your CFO competition.

Here are 11 CFO tips to do so:

Value added matters more than experience

You have to answer a simple question. What value have you really delivered in your past companies? Have you helped reduce costs, solve problems, or increase revenues and profit margin? Have you built and managed a team? Have you been involved in the strategy of the company? If you can demonstrate that you generate (much) more money than you cost you are on the right way. I have a great example of a friend of mine who was recently hired in a medium-sized technology company. On his second month, he re-negotiated a global cloud computing contract that saved the company close to $1 million a year! So that way he almost covered his own cost for the next 10 years.

List your achievements

List all your achievements in fields and lead your value stories from the pain point, that is usually why a company will hire or retain you

Communication is key

Adding value is key but if no one knows about that it is almost useless. You need to share your successes with your team, with the management, with human resources, with the Board of Directors, with the owners or investors in the company, and with headhunters. You need a personal marketing / communication / branding plan to be sure everyone knows how much value you added, inside and outside your company. Communication is something sales and marketing people usually do very well while financial professionals do not. Build your own communication plan and stick to it.

Build your own communication plan and stick to it.

Trust is a powerful leverage

If everyone trusts you in your current company, the acquirer will probably have a big incentive to retain you, maybe in the same position or in another, maybe as treasurer. If you look for another job, you will be hired because the people that are about to hire you trust that you will deliver what they need and what you said you will deliver. In both cases, you need to build your relationships so that people trust you. You can believe you are as good as or better than any other CFO candidate but if you cannot get your network to refer you based on trust and your future employer to hire you based on trust, you will have a hard time outperforming your competition.

Be transparent…

…honest and helpful with anyone in your company.

Skills and experience has to be up to date

The best way you can differentiate from your competition is your current knowledge and skills, so keep updated. It is mandatory to learn every day, something that has become easy with all the resources available online. Here are 5 websites I consider really worth reading every week: cfo.com, gtnews.com, fx-mm.com, proformative.com and zerohedge.com. Certifications and training courses are also a must. For any acquiring company, never forget that you also have a good amount of institutional knowledge – not just about the financials, but about the company in general. If you ever considered stepping into a non-financial role – this might be a good opportunity.

Read, read and read

Read as much as you can and participate in training courses every year.

Strategy is becoming central for CFOs

Companies need CFOs able to develop and articulate strategies in a changing environment. For example, when you look at the financial regulation, it has evolved so much in the last 5 years (Dodd-Franck, EMIR, etc.) that a CFO unaware of all the changes occurred will be much less valuable. The CFO needs to be a partner with all functions (Chairman, CEO, COO, etc.) and participate in moving the company forward. It is a great position to identify and solve problems or bottlenecks across the company.

Work closely…

…with the CEO and the management of the company. You are not only the guy in charge of the financial reporting.

A strong psyche is a must

Having a strong psyche is as important as having a strong resume. This last, joined with your network, will probably get you in the door, but it is your presence that will convince people to retain or hire you. If you lack confidence, people will immediately note it.

Look for support from your family, your friends or anyone else to be sure you transmit a really strong and positive attitude.

Good luck.

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