Continuing on the theme of resilience, this is a vital trait for a CFO in startup companies or those going through a change of ownership. If the CFO is seen to be underperforming, it can present a tangible risk to the deal.
Here are few observations on what clients are looking for in the ideal CFO for this type of company:
- Know the detail. As any CFO becomes more experienced they often become more strategic. But you must continue to produce the highest quality management information. Even if you are part of the strategy team, make sure you continue to know the numbers. PE investors, Chairmen and CEOs will demand the highest quality management information and will focus on this when sharing a brief with us. Yet you must be strategic too.
- Be engaging. You should confidently describe your business model and tell the story of the company in an articulate and stylish way. You are a key part of the management team and can impact investors’ attitudes and views of the company.
- Demonstrate relationship skills. An effective CEO/CFO team is highly valued by Chairmen and CEOs, but according to many CFOs this relationship does not always come naturally. Consider how you have made this relationship work and how you adapt your own behaviours when required.
- Stakeholder management. PE houses are often in more frequent contact with the CFO than the CEO, so CFOs need to be proactive, responsive, accurate and transparent in their dealings with their investors.
- Ownership. You should possess a bullish attitude to exit and real ownership, understanding implicitly your part in the deal or exit.
- Investor readiness. Demonstrate that you are confident in knowing everything about the business.