April 14, 2020 – New York City-based Bridge Partners has been enlisted to find an EVP and chief financial officer for Accion Opportunity Fund in the San Francisco Bay area. The non-profit organization spearheads the development of a national microlending strategy to meet the credit needs of small businesses. Bridge Partners’ founders Tory Clarke and Larry Griffin are leading the assignment.
Accion Opportunity Fund develops new products, establishes new partnerships, promotes research and financial education, and leverages digital technologies and data analytics to support mission-driven lending. The not-for-profit was recently created with the coming together of Opportunity Fund, a leading small business lender, and the Accion U.S. Network, the U.S. affiliate of Accion, a global not-for-profit that has led a nationwide network of community lenders since 2011.
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“Interestingly, we began the briefing conversations for this role prior to the U.S. chapter of the COVID-19 crisis beginning, just as Accion US Network and Opportunity Fund were combining,” said Ms. Clarke. “In the press release regarding the coming together of these two impactful organizations, Michael Schlein, the CEO of Accion, made the statement: ‘Small businesses are the driving force behind America’s economy and around the world, but too often lack the capital and support they need to grow and succeed.’ And Luz Urrutia, the CEO of Opportunity Fund, statedL ‘This is the first national effort that can transform the small business lending and advising sectors and, with it, the lives of families running small businesses across the country.’”
An Impactful Network
“The veracity of these statements, and the importance of small businesses to our economy, was never clearer than it is today,” said Ms. Clarke. “In addition to the health workers who are showing up every day to quite literally keep us all alive, the small businesses that have managed to stay open are where we are able to buy our groceries, order our food deliveries and fill our gas tanks…and the impact of (hopefully temporarily) shuttering thousands of others is causing extraordinary pain across the country and world.”
The decision to build out an impactful, nationwide network that would support the nation’s small business owners at-scale was prescient. “And, just a few weeks after these statements were made, there are few who would argue that organizations such as Accion Opportunity Fund won’t be fundamental to our economic recovery,” said Ms. Clarke. “To that end, this CFO, who will not only lead the finance and capital markets function but will also support the strategic leadership of the organization, will play an extraordinarily impactful role in that recovery.”
Accion Opportunity Fund’s CFO will be charged with developing and implementing the organization’s overall financial strategy by overseeing accounting, cash management, payroll, budgeting and forecasting, and financial controls. The individual will be expected to ensure that capital strategies are aligned with the organization’s financial goals/objectives. He or she will also oversee the communication and distribution of various financial reports and other information to a broad range of internal and external constituencies, including the finance and audit committee and the board of directors.
The Right Candidate
The CFO must also establish and maintain an organizational enterprise risk management program and work with other leaders on such across the organization. The individual will also serve as a member and active participant of the executive team.
Accion Opportunity Fund wants highly qualified candidates who will share the organization’s commitment to its mission and will embody the organization’s core values. “In terms of this executive’s background, while Accion Opportunity Fund is a non-profit organization and this CFO could come from either the for-profit or non-profit sectors, a professional career in financial services, capital markets, debt, lending or a related field is highly desirable,” said Ms. Clarke. “Familiarity with, or direct experience of, capital markets, either through debt issuance and/or asset/loan sales would be beneficial for effective communication with outside constituents in either of these areas.”
Candidates should have a flexible approach, be willing to take initiative and problem-solve, and work to develop and exceed goals, said Bridge Partners. They should also have superior analytical, abstract reasoning skills and decision-making skills; be able to think conceptually and strategically while also executing and delivering results; and have strong project-management and organizational skills, clear ability to prioritize and complete multiple complex projects simultaneously. A bachelor’s degree is required; an MBA or CPA is strongly preferred.
Bridge Partners is a certified minority supplier and a minority business enterprise. Based in New York, with offices in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston, the firm has completed higher education/academia senior leadership searches for roles such as head of human resources, head of finance, head of audit and deans. Its clients include Wikimedia Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Gallaudet University, Habitat for Humanity, YMCA, Denver Foundation, YWCA, GE, Starbucks, Estee Lauder, McKesson, Freddie Mac and Kaiser Permanente.
Ms. Clarke supports senior global search assignments for private sector, public sector and international non-profit/social venture clients, across all functions. A 20-year veteran of the executive search industry, she has recruited diverse executives, including CEO/presidents and their leadership teams, at both head office and regional locations around the globe.
Mr. Griffin partners with clients on leadership assignments within the private, federal/public and non-profit sectors. He has been in executive search for nearly 30 years and has recruited diverse leaders across multiple functions from CEO/executive directors/presidents, to functional heads including chief financial officer, chief marketing officer, chief information officer, chief strategy officer and their teams.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media