October 17, 2018 – Russell Reynolds Associates has been selected to find a new chief financial officer for the NHS, the national healthcare system in the U.K. Suzanne Bose-Mallick is the consultant charged with leading the search.
A newly-created role, NHS’ CFO will be accountable for developing financial strategies and related resource allocations which ensure that NHS providers, commissioners and local health systems more broadly have the necessary financial resources available to them, said the search firm. The individual is also expected to have an appropriate set of financial and operational frameworks and incentives in place to help continuously improve the health of the populations served.
Of paramount importance, the CFO must ensure that the NHS retains and builds its reputation for financial excellence and professionalism by delivering what is asked of it within the available financial resources allocated by government, said Russell Reynolds Associates.
The incoming leader must have significant experience of operating at board level as a CFO and a substantial track record of delivering results in a very complex high-profile environment. The NHS wants a strategic thought leader who has analytical rigor coupled with pragmatic problem solving in addressing complex financial and operational situations.
Based in London, the NHS delivers care to thousands of patients every day through primary care, community, mental health, hospital and ambulance services.
Russell Reynolds Associates’ public sector, trade and associations practice group serves a wide variety of public sector and not-for-profit organizations, related public bodies, regulators and government-owned companies. It also fills the executive leadership needs of global charities, healthcare providers and local government and trade associations.
The firms’consultants have extensive experience with recruiting, developing and advising exceptional board members, CEOs and specific senior functional leadership for non-profit organizations around the world. The firm also conducts in-depth organizational culture assessment and measures the cultural fit of key leadership and candidates in the following areas: arts and culture, global development, higher education, non-profit health and human services, public sector, social justice and advocacy, as well as trade and professional associations.
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Ms. Bose-Mallick is a member of the Russell Reynolds non-profit sector practice, as well as the digital and diversity practices. She works on senior executive and non-executive roles in the U.K. public sector and in the NHS. In addition to extensive work with the Financial Conduct Authority, she has worked on board-level searches for many of the U.K.’s largest NHS Foundation Trusts, as well as on the appointments of the chief inspector of Adult Social Care and the chief inspector of general practice at the CQC. Ms. Bose-Mallick worked with the British Council on the appointment of its CEO, and led the recruitment of the national statistician, chief executive at the Office for National Statistics. Beyond the U.K., she has worked with leading global development organizations including the World Bank, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunizations and Save the Children. Ms. Bose-Mallick is based in London.
CFO Confidence Crisis
At most companies, few roles are as important as the 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.
Indeed, 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 CFO feel that their firms’ leadership development programs have failed to keep up with the rapidly changing role of 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.”
“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