Flexibility the key for firms hiring CFOs

7th March 2017

By John Wakeford


Flexibility really is the key for firms based in the regions wanting to attract top finance talent.

Experienced Chief Financial Officers have found themselves in increasing demand over the past decade. The modern finance leader has a broad and complex role spanning strategic insight and operational responsibilities.

Changes to the regulatory environment and a highly challenging economic climate have ensured their prized technical and analytical qualities are an invaluable and irresistible addition to the boardroom.

The CFO market is therefore hugely competitive and salaries are constantly rising – with double digit wage inflation. Talented CFOs often have a number of options for their next move and as a result it can be hard to lure the best to the regions.

It can be, then, extremely frustrating for a headhunter working on an executive search assignment to put forward a strong shortlist of candidates for a CFO position, only to find the client is unrealistic about the offer they are prepared to make.

Every board is looking for diversity today but many executive teams don’t truly understand that, in order to achieve it, something has to give.

If a business wants to attract the right candidate they need to make an attractive offer, which often means demonstrating flexibility in terms of the remuneration package, working arrangements, and being prepared to consider finance executives from other sectors.

If a candidate is based in London, for example, and your business is located in Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham they may not want to relocate their family – often the case when they have school aged children.

It is understandable that a finance executive will be reluctant to move their family north for a position which they may have for three or four years before potentially moving on again.

But if you allow the exec to work from home part of the week, and either commute on other days or arrange local accommodation, you could be removing the one obstacle which would prevent them from joining your board.

It may be some years away but with HS2, journey times from London to Birmingham will be down to under 50 minutes and London to Manchester under 70 minutes. It should be much easier to attract South-East based execs commuting to work for firms based in the regions.

Until then, boards in the regions will need to understand the ball is firmly in the court of the talented finance leader they are trying to attract and respond accordingly.


John Wakeford is a founding director of HW Global Talent Partner. Contact him at johnw@hitchenorwakeford.com or +44 (0) 203 691 1917 for a confidential discussion.

Ten top tips for Executive Interim candidates

21st February 2017

By John Wakeford

You may expect that highly talented executives offering their skills to some of the UK’s largest companies for day rates of up to £2,000 would be paragons of preparation.

And to be fair, many are. Highly professional, well organised, excellent communicators, experts in their field – which is why they are sought after by headhunters tasked with identifying available talent for their ever demanding clients.

But you might be surprised to learn that many aren’t prepared for the world of executive interim. Or applying for any job, come to think of it. Not in my book anyway.

So I have drawn up ten top tips for potential candidates out there thinking of moving from permanent executive positions to the dynamic, fast moving world of interim.

One: if you are immediately available, say so on your LinkedIn page. You’re more likely to get a call.

Two: make sure your job title matches the industry norm. Headhunters look for generic titles like CFO/FD/Head of Finance. If it doesn’t sound like your current or previous role is a match for the search you could be disregarded.

Three: ensure your CV is up to date.

Four: ensure your contact details are up to date. I know – you wouldn’t believe it!

Five: if you haven’t already, get a limited company set up and arrange personal indemnity insurance. It saves time when you are hired.

Six: answer the phone or call back if you are contacted by a headhunter or potential employer. Divert your landline to mobile if you are out. Firms are often looking for interims to start immediately. If you don’t respond, the headhunter will quickly move on.

Seven: know your day rate and what you would accept.

Eight: connect yourself on LinkedIn to other people with the same skill set – you are more likely to be found.

Nine: when you become available contact a headhunter. Easier than us trying to find you.

Ten: and here’s the freebie… get in touch with firms yourself direct if you seek an opportunity.


John Wakeford is a founding director of HW Global Talent Partner. Contact him at johnw@hitchenorwakeford.com or +44 (0) 203 691 1917 for a confidential discussion.