March 18, 2020 – Chief financial officers continue to be in high demand. Finding them is keeping many of the nation’s top recruitment operations busier than ever. In recent months, search firms of all varieties have placed CFOs at various companies, especially private equity-backed and healthcare outfits.
Just recently, Rich Perkey and Gina Barge of Toronto-headquartered Caldwell recruited former Geller & Company executive Kael Reicin as the new CFO of the American Cancer Society, the largest nationwide voluntary health organization.
“The American Cancer Society is like all great organizations in America – it is hyperfocused on its core mission, while transforming itself, and its practices, in order to win the prize – in this case, defeating cancer,” said Mr. Perkey. “Kael brings a robust set of strategy and financial planning and analysis skills to the American Cancer Society, and he fits the definition of the strategic CFO. Over the past two decades his career has centered upon providing strategic direction within the information services world.”
“His product strategy experience is relevant to the desire of the American Cancer Society to bring more insights to the exploration of new fundraising methodologies,” Mr. Perkey said. “We at Caldwell believed that his skill-set was and is well-suited to an organization that is dealing with a great deal of change in how it goes to market and how it interacts with its key stakeholders, internally and externally.”
Mr. Reicin brings a range of global finance, strategy and corporate development experience. He served as a CFO at Geller & Company, a firm that provides financial leadership for a leading, multi-billion-dollar financial technology company. There, he oversaw the financial planning, budgeting, performance indicators, forecasting and reporting for regulated and non-regulated entities within the company’s largest product group.
Prior to that, Mr. Reicin spent more than 10 years at Thomson Reuters, a global media, software and information firm, where he held multiple positions with progressive responsibilities. In this role, he governed the strategic direction of several business units serving the needs of lawyers and compliance and risk professionals on a global basis. This included guiding launches into new customer and geographic markets, development of innovative software and product lines, large-scale acquisitions, and the creation of effective strategic planning processes.
The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to saving lives, celebrating lives and leading the fight against cancer. From breakthrough research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the society is attacking cancer from every angle.
“The American Cancer Society has a very diverse, complex model, but a singular focus – to defeat cancer,” Mr. Perkey said. “The attraction to candidates was the diversity of the mandate – helping the American Cancer Society to retrofit its fund raising methodologies for a digital age, or maximize the impact of its cancer research efforts, or to manage a $1.3 billion balance sheet, or to find new, innovative ways to support the lives of cancer patients and their families.”
“Most importantly – to do all of those to the best of one’s ability, simultaneously,” he said. “Undoubtedly, each candidate we approached connected with the sense of purpose that comes with being the CFO of an organization with a noble purpose.”
Recruiting Financial Services Leaders
Caldwell’s global financial services practice serves clients in the areas of investment banking and capital markets, asset and wealth management, alternative investments, insurance, consumer financial services and real estate, as well as all shared services and functional capabilities across the financial services sector.
As CFOs Gain in Stature, Succession Plans to Replace Them Falter
As with all things in the business world, the role of a CFO has evolved over the past 10 years. Gone are the days of the CFO being the top accountant focused on the timely and accurate recording of transactions to generate a set of financial…
Mr. Perkey is a partner in Caldwell’s board and CEO, and financial services practices. His board engagements focus on board composition and board recruitment for a diverse set of industries, including asset management, commercial banking, health insurance, information services, life insurance, mortgage banking, natural gas distribution, paper and packaging, payments, and transportation and logistics.
With more than 25 years of executive search experience, Mr. Perkey has conducted CEO succession and search projects across North America for leading organizations in the financial services, healthcare, insurance, information services and consumer products sectors. In his specialty, financial services, he has recruited for all C-suite functional roles for organizations spanning the financial services ecosystem, including asset management, capital markets, commercial and retail banking, fintech, government-sponsored enterprises, insurance, mortgage banking and payments.
Ms. Barge is a consultant in Caldwell’s private equity and venture capital practice. She focuses on executive-level search for senior leaders within high-growth technology portfolio companies, including software as a service, e-commerce, internet and consumer. Ms. Barge’s experience spans multiple C-suite functions, as well as marketing and sales leadership roles.
CFOs for Non-Profits
For corporate finance executives who want to de-stress their lives, moving into the non-profit world is one obvious avenue. But a new report by professional services firm BDO USA points out some of the issues they would face there might remind them of their for-profit jobs. For one, their fellow C-suiters may not fully appreciate some of the challenges CFOs face. Non-profit CFOs were much more attuned to the difficulty of dealing with regulatory and legislative changes.
Like their for-profit counterparts, non-profit CFOs have also been tasked with assessing the impact of the new tax-reform law, implementing the necessary changes, and determining the most beneficial tax strategies going forward. They’re also in various changes of implementing accounting changes for revenue recognition and leasing arrangements. Finally, the CFOs were somewhat less concerned about cybersecurity than were the others. Exactly half of the former respondents, but 57 percent of the latter, said it’s a high or moderate challenge for non-profits’ boards.
BDO appeared to lightly criticize the finance chiefs for not taking cybersecurity seriously enough, saying that “CFOs could be overlooking tech-related challenges.”
“While information technology is often not under [non-profit] CFOs’ immediate responsibilities,” BDO said in its survey report, “the security of financial technology systems — including donor databases — is a crucial element of a non-profit’s overall cyber hygiene.
“Anecdotally,” the report said, “protecting organizations from cyber threats is consistently on board agendas. A CFO’s role might primarily live within the organization’s finance arm, but as veterans of the non-profit space know well, an effective leader in the dynamic non-profit world is a jack of all trades.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media