What does it take for a CFO to move on in their career?
We asked this question to CFOs in January 2013 and had over 150 responses to this question.
The responses shown in the graph give a good indication why CFOs leave.
What I found more interesting (and personal) was the detailed reasons given below.
- Board decided they wanted a different profile CFO
- Corporate consolidation/restructuring
- Board forced new CFO, CEO resisted then succumbed, I was hired as new CFO, CEO made life tough for me, I offered resignation after 2 years.
- No more personal growth potential
- I resigned due to a desire to relocate to another state
- I was with my former employer for twelve years as their CFO. Owner’s son got married and needed a job. The owner decided to give my job to his son.
- Company changed direction in terms of exit strategy.
- unsustainable business model
- It was apparent that the foreign founders wanted to re-domicile the company to their country of residence, so I began evaluating other opportunities.
- Disagreement over revenue recognition policy
- moved management positions to a different city
- After selling controlling interest to PE I did not adapt fast enough to PE requirements vs. family owned prior to sale.
- Left to start a consulting practice.
- Sold the Company
- No opportunity for equity
- Company moved HO to another country.
- Internal restructuring, consolidation of back office functions
- Lead the restructuring process with CEO, which transformed the company to service a specific market, eliminated all C-Level positions.
- Get bored quickly
- Was resigning regardless of another opportunity.
- It’s complicated – but in essence, I was no longer effective as CFO there.
- I did the restructuring and elected to leave due to lack of opportunity and company prospects.
- Poor fit
- Disagreement with CEOs strategy or lack of it…
- New CEO (2 responses)
- The wife of the president was involved in the company. she often disagreed with the president’s decision
- Controlling interest taken by Venture Capital Firm who in turn brought in new BOD and New Executive Team
- One of the partners was creating major issues as he wanted to significantly modify the business model. His disagreements were also with our lender, which was creating cash flow issues.
- Various reasons not listed above. No longer felt like it was a fit for me professionally.
- Under resourced
- Interim CFO role
Interesting food for thought, isn’t it?
What do you think about the results of this survey?
Susan Lowe, CPA says
Employers need to value their CFOs — being a CFO can be very challenging at times — since the large majority of the CFO say they leave because they are recruited away, CEOs need to watch that. This survey should be shared with CEOs and Boards. Also, I find it interesting that very few responses say a CFO left for ethical conficts, maybe they are masked within the “interpersonal conflicts” — but all of these responses clearly highlight the value of a strong CEO/CFO partnership for the CFO to feel engaged, challenged and valued within his/her firm.
Paul Parker says
I think the results look a lot like they would for most other executive jobs. In any merger or acquisition there will always be a winner and a loser, because there needs to be some cost cutting of redundant positions to make them work. In addition, when the economy gets tough especially in small companies the CEO is looking for ways to cut costs so a lot of times they go after non-revenue producing positions, which we all know is not always the best approach. Today’s CFOs need to be much more then just number crunchers, they need to be part of the business operations decision process, they need to be out working with clients, building those client relationships to help the company grow and helping the company to understand the changing needs of their clients, besides being the “numbers” person I think this is where their value add will come from especially in small to mid sized companies.
Joel Ungar says
Samuel – any breakdown between public and private companies? Very interesting comments.
Samuel Dergel says
They certainly are interesting. Which ones do you find most interesting?
Vadim S says
I think the main response ” was offered a different opportunity” offered by 50% of respondents does not answer the question. It is not clear why they decided to accept these opportunities.
Samuel Dergel says
Thanks for your insight. What would you have asked?
Vadim S says
Hi, Samuel, possibly, ” was recruited to another opportunity” can be expended into : accepted due to “a better compensation”, ” unreconcilable difference of opinion on the current business operations”, ” better growth path and change in interest”, ” other”
Amy Cooper says
The results really speak to the working relationship between the CEO and CFO to me. Whether due to role requirement changes as with the 1st, 3rd, 12th comments or due to impact of disagreements scattered across – the critical conclusion to me is that the CEO and CFO must have a positive relationship in order to be effective.
Samuel Dergel says
Thanks for allowing us to look through your lens for interpretation of the results of the survey.
CFO Success is predicated on excellent relationships with all stakeholders. A CFOs relationship with the CEO is crucial to a CFOs success.
C M Sharma says
I really like two comments – owner’s son got married and replaced CFO…never heard this. Second, involvement of President’s wife in the company….though not clear whether she was also employee or using extra jurisdictional power to misuse President’s office.
C M Sharma