The Key Traits of an Ideal Private Equity CFO

The CFO is a vital role in private equity.

This is often where the momentum comes from to implement strategic decision-making and improve operational performance as the business scales. The CFO’s role is essentially growth and, in the private equity context, to provide the link between the portfolio company and the financial sponsor. As a result, a private equity firm may have a substantial say when it comes to choosing a CFO - and there are several key traits that most will look out for.

  • Prior private equity experience - Where an executive already has experience of being a CFO in a private equity-backed business, the familiarity this creates can be incredibly beneficial. It means that someone will hit the ground walking in terms of something like operating in a levered environment, for example, or always staying focused on cash flow. It also means they will understand the need for operational excellence and be familiar with the best way to communicate with a private equity board.
  • Performance as a priority - The key traits of the ideal private equity CFO are going to be rooted in large part in the performance. This could look like an appreciation for rapid change and ongoing improvement, being focused on mitigating risks and negative surprises as well as a tendency towards urgency.
  • An appreciation for change management - A great CFO or Finance Director will bring a building mentality to the table. Key to this will be understanding how to motivate a team to drive change management initiatives, being willing to look for change and challenge the status quo as well as ensuring that ongoing improvement is a baseline in the business.
  • Needs the ability to influence the business - That might be with respect to the decision-making processes within the business or when it comes to leadership or initiatives. 
  • Exerting influence and facilitating collaboration - Being able to build relationships across the business is key. This also applies to external stakeholders and being able to manage a wide range of different relationships, all of which are of equal importance to the way the business can grow.
  • Strategic thought partnership - An ideal CFO will be able to partner strategically with the CEO to help ensure that there is a vision for the business that has cross-company buy-in. The CFO will be able to design a finance strategy that supports key business objectives but also be able to look beyond the financial and contribute to the bigger picture.
  • Being a strong leader - It’s vital for a CFO or Finance Director to have a proven track record when it comes to building high-performance teams, being able to find the best talent, and contributing to strategies designed to attract and retain the business.

A great CFO will bring a whole swathe of positives to the table, from prior experience to traits such as collaboration and strong leadership.

How can Blackwaters help?

Blackwaters have built and maintained a highly qualified talent pool so that we can quickly help with interim or permanent CFO placement within a company, usually in just a matter of weeks.

Contact us today to get access to our national network.

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