The Art of CFO Recruitment: Strategies for Finding Top Financial Leaders

The role of the Chief Financial Officer has evolved dramatically beyond being an organization’s top financial leader. CFO recruiters are increasingly looking for business leaders who are capable of managing in any economic environment. Today’s CFO search is also focusing more on the skills for transforming companies to meet future needs.

The Evolving Role of the CFO

This evolving role is evident in where CFOs say they are focusing their time on these days. A 2023 Gartner survey of CFOs shows the breadth of skills that are needed to succeed when they ranked top priorities.

Top CFO Priorities for 2023

  1. 90% Evaluating functional strategy, scope, and design
  2. 83% Planning and sequencing financial transformation
  3. 82% Communicating and engaging with the Board
  4. 80% Setting finance technology strategy and roadmaps
  5. 80% Developing a planning, budgeting, and forecasting strategy
  6. 77% Improving staff engagement
  7. 75% Leading organizational change
  8. 75% Aligning costs to growth
  9. 69% Leading the transformation programs
  10. 68% Improving budget process efficiency

While financial acumen is a foundational component of the job, a CFO executive search must uncover candidates who can lead companies through fundamental change and transformation. For example, 84% of CFOs say they will be involved in company tech strategy.

More and more, CFOs must understand artificial intelligence, machine learning, and predictive and prescriptive data analytics. Moving forward, these skills are quickly becoming must-haves in CFO searches.

Challenges in CFO Recruitment

Talent Shortages 

The turnover rate for CFOs is at record levels. Talent is in high demand and the talent pool has not kept pace. As more seasoned CFOs retire, or lack the skills needed to compete in an increasingly digital environment, it has made the job of CFO executive search firms and CEO executive search firms more difficult. 

Highly qualified talent also has more opportunities, so CFO search firms today must take a more targeted and strategic approach. While industry-specific expertise is extremely valuable, organizations need to cast a wider net to uncover top candidates.

Competition from Private Equity

There is fierce competition from private equity firms that can offer extremely lucrative compensation packages. This is attractive to candidates, especially those later in their careers looking to build wealth. While an attractive compensation package is important, CFO headhunters must be able to promote the company’s mission, culture, and leadership opportunities to compete with private equity money.

Demand for Broader Skillsets

With the evolving role, CFOs need a much broader skillset, working in partnership with CEOs and board leadership to manage company-wide transformation. Many candidates have the financial background, but lack the leadership and strategic abilities necessary to compete.

CFO recruiting firms need to go more in-depth with candidates to evaluate competency that aligns with these new challenges. For example, different types of CFOs are needed for different business environments, such as M&A, divestiture, growth, contraction, or other business goals. Those conducting the CFO executive search must find candidates that fit the profile.

Vetting for Cultural Fit

An overlooked aspect of CFO recruiting is vetting for cultural fit. There must be an alignment with the company's mission and values for success. Yet, 68% of CEOs say their own leadership team is ineffective. A lack of commitment to a shared vision can undermine even highly-talented teams.

CFO Executive Search Strategies for Finding Top Financial Leaders

The best CFO recruitment agencies are working well before you engage with them to find a candidate. They work every day to build extensive databases, track movement within the industry, and build relationships with highly qualified executives. This strategy allows CFO search firms to find passive candidates who are successful, but not actively looking for new roles — often the best candidates for your position.

Identifying Organizational Needs

Uncovering high-calibre candidates starts with identifying the specific needs of your organization and focusing on your unique situation, challenges, and objectives. This requires conversations with key stakeholders to develop the ideal profile and sort through must-have and nice-to-have criteria to zero in on the core abilities that are needed.

Industry, Regional, and Global Connections

A CFO headhunter can help surface candidates from within your industry or region and also identify candidates who have transferable skills from other industries and roles. Top CFO recruiting firms have deep connections within your industry and region, as well as contacts internationally. For example, in Ontario or Quebec, you will benefit from working with CFO executive search firms that excel at:

The Role of Executive Search Firms and CFO Recruiters 

CFO recruitment agencies specialize in finding top-tier talent for C-suite placements. They are experts at sourcing, identifying, and screening qualified candidates. 

CFO executive search firms also handle background checks and references and provide a slate of recommended candidates for consideration along with recommendations.

Objective Assessment

An experienced CFO headhunter also provides an objective perspective, eliminating internal politics or biases. Instead, CFO recruiters focus on ensuring candidates align with company objectives and culture.

Compensation Benchmarking
When you identify your top candidates, it is essential to understand current trends in compensation. CFO search agencies can provide industry benchmarks for salary and total compensation to help you create a compelling package. 

Closing the Deal

During the process, CFO recruiters develop relationships with candidates and provide significant help in closing the deal when it is time to make an offer. 

Finding Your Next CFO

Finding the right fit for your organization with the combination of skills you need to move your company forward takes expertise. You need A CFO executive search firm with years of experience. PIXCELL is a leading CEO executive search firm and CFO executive search firm, dedicated to finding the right person for your opening.

Attracting the right talent starts with the right partner. Contact the CFO recruiters at PIXCELL today to discuss your needs.


How do I find a good CFO?

A CFO search starts with identifying your current needs and future growth plans. A CEO search firm can guide you through this process and then uncover candidates who align with your needs.

What should I look for when hiring a CFO?

CFOs today do more than just manage finances; they provide strong leadership in driving company initiatives. You need a strong financial background plus the ability to communicate, adapt to changing business environments, and drive forward progress.

Can an executive search firm help me find a CFO?

A CFO executive search firm can identify candidates and evaluate their leadership and strategic abilities in addition to financial expertise. This evaluation ensures candidates align with broader goals, especially important as organizations continue to evolve.

How can I get candidates excited about the role and my company?

A CFO headhunter knows that top candidates will have choices, so it is crucial to make sure there is a shared vision. This requires education about a company’s purpose, values, goals, and direction. While a strong compensation package is always part of the discussion, you want candidates who align with your vision and embrace it. 

What do CFOs want in their next opportunity?
Besides a strong compensation package, most CFO candidates are looking for growth potential and the ability to make a significant impact. They want to work with a leadership team that values their skills and insight when discussing strategy. Top candidates also want to work collaboratively in an environment where there is a clear vision for the future and commitment to growth.


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