The need for solid financial analysis only continues to increase. As companies become more complex and international in scope, they are finding it harder and harder to accurately assess strengths and weaknesses, much less take corrective actions to help improve performance.
The good news for businesses is that the power of their Enterprise Resource Planning (“ERP”) packages allows a strong performer to be extremely productive. The bad news is that there are a limited number of people who can use the ERP programs to help drive positive change and profitability improvements. Many finance people, particularly those without strong IT skills and quantified accomplishment, are part of the problem, not the solution.
As the need for a new type of financial problem solver has evolved, we have adapted our recruiting process to find the best ones. We have been able to work with some great organizations, placing outstanding individuals who have been able to make significant contributions and grow with their new employer. Here is how we go about recruiting the strongest financial analysts and planners.
Finance and IT are on a convergent course.
- Companies have invested in ERP systems, and they expect them to work. The successful finance person can become part of the solution by understanding enough IT to be able to select the right software package and make it provide actionable analyses without “work-arounds” or substantial manipulation of the data.
- An increasing percentage of our placements are individuals who have undergraduate degrees in computer science or who have done systems implementation work between their undergraduate and graduate degrees.
Financial People today need to be closer to the Operations, geographically and philosophically:
- As companies have become leaner and more decentralized, the need for finance people to be able to deal with and support corporate decision makers has increased. We are looking for candidates who want to learn the business so that they can add value.
- Quantified accomplishments are more important now than ever. As business becomes more dynamic, it is harder and hard to keep up with, much less drive, change. We will not pass a candidate on to a client if they can’t show definitive quantified accomplishments on how they shortened the monthly close, reduced the budget cycle, or worked with management help reduce costs and/or improve margins.
- More and more jobs require candidates who are multi-lingual or multi-cultural. We know how to find such people.
Because most businesses are generally employing fewer people in finance today, it has become crucial to carefully define the reason why someone is being hired and what that new person is expected to accomplish. We seek to work in partnership with management to problem-solve the hiring process, so that whoever is hired will help drive positive change and growth.
As a result, over 50% of the people we have placed over the years are still with that organization after five years, with almost everyone of these longer term hires having been promoted at least once.
Here are two examples of how our problem-solving methodology has produced solid placement results:
Example #1 – Regional CFO Asia Pacific
Situation: A large entity that primarily sells to the financial services sector was in the process of bringing an ex-pat CPA back to the US from Japan, where he had been able to largely resolve some serious financial reporting issues and communications problems. Our client did not want to send another ex-pat to replace him, in part because of cost considerations. However, the local candidates were not acceptable to the regional management or corporate staff.
Circumstance: The regional General Manager felt the Japanese subsidiary problems had largely been resolved but also believed that there was limited opportunity for further growth in the country.
Solution: Upon engaging us, we redefined the job, which had largely been a Director of Financial Reporting, into a true regional CFO role. We recruited a financial expert who not only had an understanding of the Japanese market, but also had a broader perspective. He was already working in Japan for an American Private Equity firm and had a stellar track record at investment banks and an MBA from a top school. This individual was married to a Japanese national and was fluent in Mandarin. He had been looking to relocate to the US where his wife was living at the time of recruitment.
Since joining the financial services firm as a regional CFO, he has been helping the firm grow in the Asia Pacific region through selective acquisitions and strategic alliances. His wife was also able to find a job in Japan so the family could be reunited.
Example #2 – Transition from an investment vehicle to an actively managed business.
Situation: The newly hired CFO of a $1 billion beverage company was put in place to help actively manage what had largely been a holding company entity, in other words, a cash cow.
Circumstance: The previous CFO, a CPA, had acquired a number of regional beverage companies but wasn’t able to provide the infrastructure to help create a functioning company that could grow rapidly. The new CFO had the vision to make the holding company into a larger, growing enterprise but did not want to staff his new company with people from his prior firm (Pepsi), as he wanted the company to have its own style and personality.
Solution: We found a top-school MBA with a BS in Operations, who was working for another, smaller, growing consumer company. He started as Manager of Financial Planning and Analysis, then moved into operations and is now CFO of a business unit with sales approaching $1 billion. The overall entity’s sales now exceed $5 billion.
We would love to talk to you about your financial planning hiring needs. Contact Bond & Company today!