May 13, 2019 – 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.
Egon Zehnder has been retained by NASDAQ-traded Innophos Holdings to lead its search for a new CFO. Mark Feuerbach, the company’s current vice president, investor relations, treasury, financial planning and analysis, has been named interim CFO, replacing Han Kieftenbeld.
“As we move into the next chapter of our transformation with a sharp focus on execution, a new set of financial and business skills and experience are needed to lead our finance organization forward and accelerate our strategic growth,” said Kim Ann Mink, chairman, president and CEO.
“We are grateful that Mark Feuerbach will be stepping up to fill the role of CFO on an interim basis,” Ms. Mink said. “Mark has played a central role within Innophos’ financial organization for three decades. His strong finance background, prior experience in the interim CFO role and deep understanding of the financial needs of our organization will ensure continuity as we complete the search for a permanent CFO.”
Innophos is an international producer of specialty ingredient solutions that deliver far-reaching, versatile benefits for the food, health, nutrition and industrial markets. The company leverages its expertise in the science and technology of blending and formulating phosphate, mineral, enzyme and botanical based ingredients to help our customers offer products that are tasty, healthy, nutritious and economical. Headquartered in Cranbury, NJ, Innophos has manufacturing operations across the U.S. as well as in Canada, Mexico and China.
Egon Zehnder’s global CFO practice conducts searches for multinational companies at global, group, regional, and division levels. The practice offers specialized expertise in private equity and emerging markets. Cagla Bekbolet, based in London, leads the firm’s global financial officers practice and is involved in senior-level appointments in the finance function for international client companies.
CFO Confidence Crisis
At most companies, few roles are as important as chief financial officer. But the CFOs today who are thinking about tomorrow are growing nervous about a key talent issue: They worry that no one else in the company can assume their role.
According to one Korn Ferry report, 81 percent of CFOs surveyed say they want to groom the next CFO internally, but don’t believe that there’s a viable candidate in-house. Today, about half of new roles are filled internally.
“The current CFO is the one charged with identifying and developing that talent, and since they know best the skills required to meet what’s coming, they are realizing the internal bench isn’t fully prepared,” said Bryan Proctor, senior client partner and global financial officers practice lead at Korn Ferry.
The lack of confidence is partly because CFOs feel that their firms’ leadership development programs have failed to keep up with the rapidly changing role of the CFO, Korn Ferry said. Core functions such as finance and accounting are increasingly being combined under one role, with CFOs citing a lack of resources or skills and career development opportunities as reasons for the merging. Korn Ferry surveyed more than 700 CFOs worldwide, asking them about their own internal talent pipelines. The top two abilities CFOs feel their direct reports need to develop are “leadership skills and executive presence” and “strategic thinking.”
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…
“The tapestry of skills and experiences CFOs of today and tomorrow need are vastly different than what was needed in the past,” said John Petzold, senior client partner and CXO optimization lead at Korn Ferry. “The reason subfunctions are merging is because the focus is less on a role or person and more about the capabilities that need to be covered by a set of individuals.”
In essence, the CFO function is being deconstructed for optimization, according to Korn Ferry. Leaders are breaking down necessary functions based on their organization’s strategy and identifying people with a combination of those skills and piecing them together to get the right set of talent to execute against that plan. Core financial functions such as taxes, capital allocation and M&A still need to be done accurately and in compliance with regulations, of course. But experts say the CFO role is becoming more about adapting and deploying talent in the most efficient manner possible.
“The leadership profile of the future CFO is less about tactical, direct experience, and more about learning agility, adaptability, and big-picture global perspective,” said Mr. Proctor. “That kind of nimbleness and ability to pivot isn’t naturally ingrained in the typical CPA.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media