At CMF, 100% of our executive recruitment effort is centered around CFOs, Controllers, and FP&A Directors in middle market companies around the country. Over the past 18 months, we have noticed a significant tightening in the marketplace with A-player candidates who were once eager and responsive to new job inquiries, now having multiple offers.
Companies that are hiring have to actively “sell” the position to the “best of the best.” Our unscientific assessment of the market is that the unemployment rate for experienced A-player CFOs has gone from 6% to 3% during this time period. We expect this to be the new “normal” for the following reasons:
- The U.S. economy is recovering and business continues to get more complex with financial, IT, international, regulatory, and growth issues front and center every day – the normal course of business appears to be companies operating in the “red zone.”
- As a result, the bar for an A-player CFO moves higher as we move forward in time
- The training to get from a B-player to an A-player does not happen in the classroom – it happens on the job where the action is; we cannot create new pools of A-players overnight
- Burdensome regulation within public accounting firms, post-SOX, means that much of the “business training” that many of us received in public accounting is missing in the current crop of young professionals. Young people need additional experiences outside of public accounting to hone their skills and smart and agressive auditors looking to become A-player CFOs will need additional time to develop
How can CPAs and audit professionals help their clients?
- Make them aware of the realities of the current supply and demand dynamics in the market for CFOs and Controllers
- Ask if they have a succession or contingency plan in the event that they need to replace a CFO
- Suggest that they make sure that the details of closing the books happens with limited input from the CFO, this way in the event of a departure, the company will at least be able to report on a monthly basis
Click here for CMF’s matrix comparing A-player and B-player CFOs (how would you categorize your clients?).
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