What to Look For in a Chief Financial Officer

You’ve done some careful research and determined when to hire a CFO for your company. But how do you know what to look for in a CFO?

As a purpose based executive search firm, Y Scouts looks for candidates who share a business’ goals. If a chief financial officer is going to be leading a company, why they work should align with the company’s purpose.

But a shared purpose isn’t the only qualification needed to become a leading executive. To help you determine what to look for in a CFO, here are seven other qualifications a successful chief financial officer should possess.

1. Knowledge and passion for your company’s industry.
A good CFO does not just understand finance – he or she also understands the ins and outs of your company’s industry. If the CFO candidate knows and cares about your company’s clients and stakeholders, he or she is more likely to be successful in the position.

2. Leadership ability.
As one of your company’s leading executives, the CFO you hire must be able to move the company forward. The ability to effectively lead a team toward specific goals without causing tension is essential for a chief financial officer.

3. Reliability.
A top-notch CFO needs to know more than just accounting and financial skills. As one of your company’s biggest leaders, you’re going to have to rely on them in a number of ways. If times get hard, you need to know that your CFO will be there to help the business move forward.

4. Top-notch communication skills.
Teamwork is an essential part of any position, but it is especially important for executives like the chief financial officer. Whomever you hire as the CFO needs to be able to communicate well – in person and in writing – with everyone on your staff.

5. Problem solving skills.
Even if your company is experiencing positive growth, there is always a problem that needs to be solved. When looking for a CFO, testing a person’s problem solving skills with insightful interview questions is a good way to see how they handle everyday issues.

6. A wide range of financial knowledge.
Naturally, a qualified chief financial officer will understand the basics of finance. However, a candidate who also understands other areas of business such as investment, accounting, and risk management can be an asset to any company in need of a CFO.

7. Cultural fit.
If the chief financial officer doesn’t fit in with the office environment, it will be difficult for them to succeed as an executive. Since shared values typically lead to more successful employees, it helps to look for CFO candidates who fits in with your company’s culture.

You might be interested in these other posts about hiring a CFO:
When to Hire a CFO
How to Hire a CFO
15 Incredible CFO Interview Questions
What to Pay a CFO

How does your business decide what to look for in a CFO? Let us know in the comments.


Y Scouts is a purpose-based, performance-proven leadership search and development firm focused on transforming how people and organizations connect to work that matters. When you’re ready to hire a new leader, Contact Y Scouts. If you are looking for your next leadership role within a purpose-driven, performance-focused organization, please join the Y Scouts Leadership Community.

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How to Find a CFOWhat to Look For in a CFO

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