Why Virtual CFOs Are In Demand In The Post-Pandemic World

Companies pursuing CFOs, or even CFOs hiring financial analysts, are also experiencing a rapidly changing recruitment climate

The normal system by which recruiters identify and involve new hires has been interrupted by the pandemic in many ways. For example, networking opportunities at conferences are gone, and face-to-face interviews have been reduced to video versions, with on-demand streaming open to additional stakeholders afterwards.

Companies pursuing CFOs, or even CFOs hiring financial analysts, are also experiencing a rapidly changing recruitment climate. This new dynamic is reflected in the fact that some searches were delayed and even cancelled once begun; months-long recruiting procedures were compressed into days; and succession planning was often discarded in favour of luring former CFOs out of retirement.

What businesses are targeting has also changed. A robust CFO market characterised by high demand for a dwindling supply of experienced, public-company CFO applicants, and rapidly growing hires of aspiring internal leaders, slowed suddenly in the aftermath of COVID-19. In some cases, sitting CFOs have at least temporarily postponed their retirement plans; in others, the need for a CFO with particular experience, such as planning for an IPO, has lost some of its urgency. Instead, corporations are now looking for answers as they look for a new finance chief as to how to recalibrate their needs to comply with a marketplace that is still evolving.

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Some of these trends, considering the conditions in the season, are not surprising. Many CFOs were focused on helping their current companies navigate the COVID-19 crisis on the candidate side, or were simply unable to consider a drastic shift in the midst of too much uncertainty. In addition, many businesses were either too busy to concentrate on a search or too worried about bringing in a highly paid boss when making major cost cuts.

Nevertheless, executive employment is unlikely to return to business-as-usual anytime soon. The mechanism is being reshaped by rising technological adoption, combined with a crisis that continues to fuel uncertainty. The combination of a remote working environment and the increasing use of virtual tools, for instance, has led to faster search processes. For example, some candidates are progressing through weeks of first and second round interviews rather than the usual months they would have taken before the pandemic. The following are other shifting dynamics:

Hiring now, meeting later. Restrictions on travel, based on health threats, would gradually ease up. But businesses could be uninterested in seeing these costs grow again. Recruiters claim they are increasingly moving to other forms of cultural compatibility and psychometric assessment methods provided remotely or online, as well as business case simulation-based virtual interviews in which applicants clarify how they can cope with different obstacles to help consumers replace the appraisal opportunities they traditionally carried out during social interactions.

From the board, increasing interest and participation. Board participation in searches is on the rise and is often triggered earlier in the process, reflecting the increased feedback from managers to help management cope with the pandemic. Boards also support recruiting CFOs with demonstrated abilities to improve balance sheets, develop employee security strategies, and safeguard the interests of shareholders.

A harder route for internal applicants. Fewer internal promotions to first-time virtual CFOs may be one victim of the pandemic. Experienced CFOs, stationed at companies hit hard by the pandemic, might now be available, as it turns out. And businesses with healthy balance sheets and a clear path to the future can find recruiting talented CFOs from weaker balance sheet companies more attractive.

Vignesh Anandarajan of KayOne Consulting, a leading Virtual CFO provider says, “Virtual CFO services is no longer about handling day-to-day accounting and compliances. It aims to provide more value addition to the client by giving financial intelligence, accurate MIS and business metrics relevant for quick decision making.”

Renewed respect for the talents of individuals. As a consequence of the current health crisis, CFOs with communication and teamwork skills will be more in demand, according to quest professionals. In fact, the reaction to the pandemic shows that leadership characteristics historically considered "softer" characteristics-empathy, humility, contemplation, transparency, and communication-are at least as efficient as traditionally "stronger" leadership characteristics-dominance, risk-taking, and a more assertive style of take-charge. The awareness could help broaden the pool of applicants for virtual CFOs.

Disclaimer: No Deccan Chronicle journalist was involved in creating this content. The group also takes no responsibility for this content.

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