The role of CFO in PE-backed companies continues to evolve from accountant to business leader. A group of PE CFOs joined to discuss the biggest challenges facing their success today.
How private equity needs to assess potential chief executive officers and chief financial officers.
Private companies - maintain the status quo or support a tide of change?
Based on a survey of a 140 UK based respondents across Audit Committee Chairs, Board Chairs, CFOs and Audit Partners in the UK. The survey was supplemented with 21 interviews with UK Board Chairs, Audit Committee Chairs, CFOs and Audit Partners aimed at determining what characteristics are needed to lead this key Committee, what the job entails now, and crucially how an Audit Committee Chair can succeed.
As private equity firms look to maximize value from their investments, it is critical to ensure that portfolio company management teams have the right capabilities to execute against their investment theses. Though in many cases the underlying premise will lie in backing an existing management team, it is increasingly common for private equity firms to bring in a new CFO early in the lifespan of an investment.
The days when the main function of Audit Committees was to put a “stamp of approval” on companies’ financials are long gone. Heightened risk awareness and increased regulation means that Audit Committees must now take on a much more proactive role in detecting, understanding and acting on risk – be it financial, macroeconomic, regulatory, legal or cybersecurity-related.
Within the executive committee, there is no relationship more important than that between the chief executive officer and the chief financial officer. Because of this, when hiring a CFO, particular attention must be paid to the fit between the candidate and the chief executive. In our experience working with boards and CEOs making CFO appointments, strong CEO-CFO relationships exhibit three qualities.
A strong relationship between a public company’s chief financial officer and its audit committee is critical if the board is to provide appropriate risk management and compliance oversight.
It should not be controversial to say that all organizations must be capable of some degree of innovation.
When Egon Zehnder launched the 25 by 25 initiative last September, aiming to quintuple the number of female CEOs in UK FTSE 100 companies within a decade, we committed to the same target in finance. Given that men and women now enter the profession in almost equal numbers, this should be an achievable goal but, critically, it depends on overcoming obstacles which confront many women mid-career.