April 12, 2017 – Executive search firm WinterWyman has been retained by Residential Mortgage Services (RMS) to lead its search for a chief accounting officer (CAO). Senior vice president and partner Ken Martin is leading the assignment.
The incoming CAO will provide financial insight to RMS in order to drive better strategy formulation, decision making and tactical execution. He or she will also collaborate with executive managers to enhance the value of the organization’s operating platform and drive customer service for clients as well as serve as company spokesperson on financial and strategic matters.
The chosen CAO will be responsible for implementing RMS’ financial framework, including establishing an annual operating plan, setting up performance metrics for key operational activities, implementing an internal control environment, creating strong accounting policies & procedures and leading the preparation of annual financial audited statements.
“For their CAO, RMS is looking for an accomplished executive with a public accounting background who is a licensed CPA and has complete and current knowledge of accounting standards and practices as well as financial technology platforms,” said Mr. Martin. “Additionally, their CAO will be an executive who, after leaving public accounting, transitioned to a lending institution, mortgage company or bank with lending services.” The executive must be able to interpret accounting standards as to how they relate to RMS and their potential impact on the organization, he added.
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RMS is a leading retail residential mortgage origination business focused on the New England market. The Portland, ME-based organization is licensed in 20 states and originates conventional, FHA and VA mortgage loans through its network of 250 loan officers in 70 branch offices located throughout the New England and Mid-Atlantic markets.
Inside the Hunt for CAOs
Headquartered in Waltham, MA, WinterWyman is a boutique search firm focused on executive hiring for venture-backed, growth stage and large public companies. The firm recently placed Barrett Heacock as corporate controller at QuickBase, an online database software, collaboration & automation solution.
Mr. Martin collaborates with organizations on their senior-executive talent acquisition needs. He has an academic and professional foundation in accounting, and over 30 years of leading senior level searches. Mr. Martin recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to take us inside the hunt for CAOs. Here’s an excerpt from that discussion.
Ken, where do you find the best chief accounting officer talent?
Senior accounting and finance leaders, from CAOs to CFOs to global controllers, are most often found via referral. Since most have a background in public accounting, they share large networks with other former Big 4 alumni. They also typically have advanced business degrees from well-regarded business schools – most of whom also have strong alumni programs. We also look for executives who have come out of prestigious management programs similar to General Electric’s or have helped organizations through substantial growth cycles. When we are recruiting for such positions, we first turn to our networks to seek referrals and our research team to identify finance executives who have scaled organizations as well as worked in companies recognized for their best practices.
What is the best type of training for this role?
Hands down, public accounting remains the top training ground for finance executives. The exposure to multiple types of businesses and accounting systems makes for an unparalleled career foundation. Additionally, the introductions to executives and finance professionals at client organizations make for excellent networks and referrals. Likewise, management training programs at prestigious organizations as well as advanced degrees from well-regarded business schools are key success factors for accounting and finance executives.
“Hands down, public accounting remains the top training ground for finance executives. The exposure to multiple types of businesses and accounting systems makes for an unparalleled career foundation.”
What traits and characteristics make up ideal chief accounting officers?
Typically, CAOs are technically minded and comfortable expressing their opinions and making pronouncements on how accounting standards will impact their organization. Because they oversee reporting and are accounting focused, they are usually more internal facing and hands on than a CFO. They must also be adept at building, evaluating and mentoring teams. What’s interesting with the RMS search is that their CAO also needs to be analytical, familiar with dash boarding and have excellent communication and presentation skills. Typically, these talents would be more important for a CFO, but at RMS their CAO will be charged with speaking to the company’s internal constituents so the incoming leader must have keen speaking skills and the ability to communicate accounting results to all levels.
Contributed by Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor, Hunt Scanlon Media