As an executive search professional that focuses on the office of the CFO, I am involved with the hiring of Chief Financial Officers for companies. Unless I am working to help a company hire their first CFO, the mandate I have is to replace a current CFO or a Chief Financial Officer that has left.
While only having the time to work on a handful of CFO searches at a time, you may know that I track CFO movement on my CFO Moves Blog. When I combine my personal direct involvement with helping companies hire their Chief Financial Officer with my tracking of hiring and unhiring of CFOs across the US, Canada and the UK, I see many CFO getting replaced.
You can understand that this a topic that interests me. And if you are reading this, the topic probably interests you as well.
I came across a very interesting academic working paper, CFO Succession and Corporate Financial Practices, authored by Ellen Engel, Feng Gao and Xue Wang, that was published in October 2013. This paper looks at reasons and financial reporting consequences of CFO successions. The document is a properly researched academic paper, and makes for an interesting read if you are academically inclined.
Here is the Abstract of the document which summarizes the findings of the research:
We examine the determinants and financial performance consequences of Chief Financial Officer (CFO) successions. We argue that if internal monitoring mechanisms are effective, there should be a greater probability of forced CFO departures in firms with poor financial reporting and capital management performance, and resulting improvements in financial practices following forced turnovers. We test these hypotheses over the period 2002 to 2008. We find that
(1) the incidences of accounting restatements and debt covenant violations are significantly associated with the probability of forced CFO turnovers;
(2) firms are more likely to hire successor CFOs from outside the firm following accounting restatements, especially those due to irregularities;
(3) the hiring of outside CFOs is associated with improved financial reporting quality.
Further, these findings are concentrated in firms with majority independent boards, suggesting that outside directors play a greater role in monitoring CFOs than inside board members.
These findings are not surprising.
When CFOs don’t do their job, they get fired and replaced.
As CFO, are you doing your job?