January 23, 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.
Recently, executive search firm Polachi Inc. placed Will Porter as the CFO of ObserveIT in Boston, MA. “We wish a great candidate much success at one of our truly great clients,” said search firm partner Charley Polachi, who spearheaded the assignment.
Mr. Porter brings extensive financial, accounting, legal and operational experience in high-growth environments. He is a seasoned CFO with over 25 years of experience in the finance, accounting, tax, HR and operations areas, including a significant background in fundraising, mergers and acquisitions, and the building of finance, legal, HR and IT organizations. Prior to joining ObserveIT, he served as CFO of both BlueTarp Financial and Signiant.
Mr. Porter joins ObserveIT in the wake of the company’s record 2018, including a 50 percent increase in fourth quarter bookings, raising $34 million in B round funding, being named by the Boston Globe as one of the Top Places to Work in Massachusetts and BostInno voting ObserveIT one of its 2018 “50 on Fire” businesses.
With more than 1,700 global customers across all major verticals, ObserveIT is an insider threat management solution that empowers security teams to detect insider threats, streamline the investigation process and prevent data exfiltration.
Polachi Inc. provides access executive search services to technology, clean technology, private equity and venture capital companies. The firm recruits executive leaders for a client roster that includes Aspen Technology, Bottomline Technologies, Attunity, Cognizant Technologies, MAM Software, Trillium Software/Harte Hanks, FleetMatics, Lionbridge, Sparta Systems, Sevcon, Epsilon, Cognex, Plug Power, Mediamorph, Witricity, BlueConic, Perkins School, Knoa and Visual IQ, among others.
Mr. Polachi recruits CEOs, board members, and other officer-level executives for public and private technology companies. He also oversees Polachi Inc.’s venture capital and private equity specialty practice, which is dedicated to recruiting partners for leading venture capital and private equity firms around the world. Among his honors, Mr. Polachi was previously named among BusinessWeek’s Top 100 Most Influential Headhunters in the world.
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