November 2, 2022 – La Jolla, CA-headquartered search firm The Lancer Group has placed Brad Wolfe as chief financial officer for Aquiline Capital Partners-backed Elm Street Technology LLC. Mr. Wolfe specializes in assessing situations and risks, then developing and executing effective strategies. With 14 successful exits ranging from 2X to 10X over 20 years, he has built departments from scratch and centralized and decentralized accounting and operational functions. Mr. Wolfe has worked for a private company/investor (private equity) for much of these last 20 years in a variety of his subsidiary/portfolio companies, investments, and public/private funds in both operational and financial roles. Prior to that, he worked as a CFO for AON, the Fortune 200 company, for five years and as the CFO/COO for Safeway Insurance for four years.
Mr. Wolfe has public accounting as well as controllership experience and extensive M&A experience as a CFO and in a Big Four public accounting firm and large international law firm. He possesses extensive SOX, SOC I, II, and III, privacy experience, and extensive information technology experience.
Elm Street is a provider of residential real estate technology and digital marketing solutions. The SaaS company’s Elevate platform offers a growing portfolio of integrated marketing services for real estate professionals in an all-in-one solution.
Aquiline Capital Partners, founded in 2005, is a private investment firm based in New York and London with $5.3 billion in assets under management, investing in businesses across the financial services sector in financial technology, insurance, investment management, business services, credit, and healthcare.
Serving Private Equity and Portfolio Companies
The Lancer Group, established in 1998, serves private equity firms, their portfolio companies, and public corporations in their talent acquisition needs. The firm specializes in board-driven search mandates including CEOs, CFOs, C-suite executives, and board directors as well as private equity investment professionals and operating partners. With that background, the firm has provided strategic counsel to clients across a range of industries and has expertise in technology, industrial, energy, healthcare, and consumer markets.
With relationships at over 50 of the top 100 private equity firms, The Lancer Group provides a range of pre-deal private equity advisory services beyond traditional executive search. These include deal origination, diligence support and introductions to “backable” executives. The firm, which is privately held, operates from offices in Boston, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sydney, Australia.
Recruiting CFOs for VC/PE Companies
Executive search firm Caldwell recently conducted a survey on the CFO role to fine-tune its understanding of the skills and experiences that define success today for a CFO of a PE-backed portfolio company and, equally importantly, which attributes may sound appealing but are not essential. More than 300 private equity CFOs shared candid responses on their backgrounds and how they landed in their current role. The results provided a clearer picture of who sits in the CFO chair at many PE-backed portfolio companies, and the skills and credentials that are truly impactful in their leadership role.
When asked to describe their previous experience, 10 percent of the participants said, “I was a divisional CFO or No. 2 finance executive in a PE-backed company,” while 20 percent had the same status at a public company. Another 35 percent had been a CFO of a public or private company. And only 34 percent had been CFO of a PE-backed company. So just a third of the CFOs in the Caldwell survey had previously held a PE CFO role.
The Evolving Role of the CFO
Given the speed at which market conditions, business strategies, and operational structures have changed in recent years, businesses are more aware than ever of the crucial role the chief financial officer plays in shaping and driving a company’s strategic direction. A just-released report by BoardEx of ‘The Role of the CFO 2022’ examines more than 1,400 CFOs who lead major publicly traded companies across 16 countries around the world. Let’s take a closer look.
Among companies with less than $25 million in revenue, only 15 percent of the CFOs had prior experience as CFO of a PE-backed company, while 56 percent of the companies with greater than $500 million revenue hired a CFO with prior experience in a PE CFO role. In the three other revenue categories, the companies hired a CFO with prior PE CFO experience 40 percent of the time, or less. These findings would seem to indicate that hiring a CFO with prior PE CFO experience is a “nice to have,” but not a must-have credential for all companies, said the firm.
Caldwell also asked the CFOs: “What were the key factors in your hiring?” and asked them to check all relevant factors. Among the total population of participants, the No. 1 factor was industry experience, and the second factor was PE experience. Tied for third were a previous successful exit and a prior role as a stand-alone PE CFO.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media