March 20, 2019 – The Inzito Partnership, a London-based executive search firm, has expanded with the addition of a financial officer practice to serve what the organization says is a growing number of requirements in the field. Simon Bailey joins the company to lead the new practice, working on the appointment of CFOs and their leadership teams in the U.K. and worldwide.
“Over the last 10 years we’ve helped our clients to appoint exceptional CFOs,” said Carol Leonard, founding partner and head of the firm’s board practice. “Simon’s expertise and extensive network will enable us to build on this success by further strengthening our ability to identify and attract talented board and management board members for our clients, as well as allowing us to help CFOs with their teams too.”
Mr. Bailey said that he believes the CFO role will continue to develop as a critical board appointment carrying increasing influence over the strategy, performance and control of companies. “I am very excited to be marrying the Inzito values of quality, rigor and best in class in research with my experience of managing CFO and senior finance leadership appointments,” he said. “I believe we have an opportunity to now become the go-to U.K. firm for such appointments. It is 10 years since Carol and I worked together at Whitehead Mann [now Korn Ferry] and I am very excited to be joining her again, and the team at Inzito.”
A Respected Firm
The boutique, founded 10 years ago, has worked with a broad range of FTSE listed and private businesses including Rolls Royce, Compass, Harrods, Bentley, Uber and the London Stock Exchange. The Inzito Partnership is also a member of AltoPartners, an international partnership of independent executive search firms and leadership consultants.
Mr. Bailey has 30 years’ experience in managing senior finance appointments. In addition to leading the financial officers practice, he is a member of Inzito’s board practice as well. He specializes in chief financial officer and senior finance leadership appointments including finance directors, VPs of finance, controllers, heads of audit, tax, treasury, investor relations, corporate development and mergers and acquisitions.
Mr. Bailey works with major organizations, public companies, private equity and privately owned businesses both domestically and internationally spanning all sectors. Previously, he has led the financial officers practice of major search firms including Norman Broadbent, Whitehead Mann, as well as smaller boutique firms.
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