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The DNA of a CFO – do you have what it takes?

The DNA of a CFO – do you have what it takes?

CFOs in New Zealand need commercial nous, the ability to cooperate with operations and a willingness to work hard in order to succeed in the top finance job, according to a survey of 500 CFOs by recruiting experts Hays.

Surveyed for the recruiter’s ‘DNA of a CFO’ report, out today, Hays also found that CFOs are typically men in their 40s and 50s who work long hours, network, have extensive experience, are good people managers, possess strong general management skills, and make time for work-life balance.

“Many accountants enter the finance profession with the aspiration of becoming a CFO,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand. “It’s not hard to see the appeal of the top finance job. But how do you get there? Career paths can vary, but those who become CFO share something in common – the DNA of a CFO.”

According to Hays’ survey:

• CFOs are typically men in their 40s and 50s - 67% of respondents were aged between 41 and 55, while 84% were male;
• 46 to 55 hour working weeks are the norm - 55% work 46 to 55 hours and a further 29% work more than 56 hours each week;
• 57% have worked outside Australia or New Zealand during their career;
• 96% of CFOs who have worked abroad say that the experience has benefited their career;
• 65% of CFOs have recently attended a networking event;
• 55% would either like to stay in their current post or take on a higher finance leadership role;
• 50% have more than 20 years’ post-qualification experience;
• 71% have always worked in finance;
• 66% think that being hard-working has aided their career success;
• 27% believe that the operations function is the most important discipline to partner with;
• 64% say commercial acumen is the most important attribute for a CFO to have;
• Just 28% use social media to network, although 95% are on LinkedIn;
• 66% think the up-and-coming generation need to get involved with their organisation’s operational activities; and
• 78% play sport or exercise to wind down after work.

“The results of our survey paint a picture of the typical CFO,” says Jason. “For example, they show that finance is a male-dominated profession at the senior level. Meanwhile over half of today’s CFOs trained in an accountancy firm, and believe this is a solid foundation for a successful finance career.

“We also found that CFOs show an appetite for continuous professional development, using this as a tool to set them apart from their peers and improve their own performance. So for up and coming CFOs, gaining experience of projects as early as possible in your finance career can help you stand out from your internal and external competition.

“On the whole, finance leaders have notched up many years of post-qualification experience (PQE). Half had over 20 years of experience under their belt and a further one quarter had between 16 and 20 years’ PQE. Only 1% qualified less than five years ago. So it seems that in order to succeed at the top you need to build up your experience, and to have had the time to sharpen your skill set and commercial acumen.

“Meanwhile, CFOs from the private sector are increasingly filling public sector vacancies. Almost half of the public sector CFOs who completed our survey said their previous role was in the private sector, which is no surprise when public sector employers (outside of Government) are actively looking for finance leaders with commercial knowledge in order to increase the commercial acumen of their teams.

“Interestingly, CFOs are also increasingly business partners who work in close contact with operations. They agree that commercial acumen is the most important skill for a CFO to possess, followed by people management, reflecting the CFO’s role as a leader, influencer and negotiator,” he said.

The report is available at www.hays.net.nz/CFO.

Methodology
500 finance professionals were surveyed face to face over December 2013 and January 2014. The majority held the position of CFO, while a small percentage indicated their current job title was Finance Director, Group, Divisional or Regional Finance Director, Director of Finance, Head of Finance or GM of Finance.

400 were based in Australia and 100 were in New Zealand. Of these, 47 per cent work in commerce and industry for an ASX non-listed organisation and 20 per cent work for an ASX listed organisation. 28 per cent work in the public or not-for-profit sector, and 0.4 per cent work for an accountancy firm. The remaining 4.7 per cent elected not to specify their organisation.

These CFOs were asked about their educational background, qualifications, international experience, responsibilities, challenges and personal aspirations.

To see more detailed profiles of the CFOs who appear in this report, please visit www.hays.net.nz/CFO

About Hays
Hays is the leading global specialist recruiting group. We are the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in Asia Pacific and the UK and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. We operate across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

As at 31 December 2013 we employed 7,979 staff operating from 240 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2013, Hays reported net fees of £719 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £125.5 million. Hays placed around 53,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 182,000 people into temporary assignments. 29% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific.

Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA.

ENDS

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