DNA of an Interim CFO: Insights from Fi Wallace

DNA of an Interim CFO: Insights from Fi Wallace

By Fi Wallace.  Fi  is Associate Director at Renoir leading interim general & specialist finance placements within treasury, tax, M&A, investor relations at Renoir operating from our London office.


The CFO landscape is inundated with information, statistics and moving parameters and they change all the time. I often read the newspaper on a Sunday, and I read inspiring articles on individuals and companies that have been through IPO’s, transformations through to fundraising in unstable economic markets – but how do you navigate this and especially when hiring an interim CFO?

An interim CFO is typically hired to support growth, change or transformation – from businesses going through a crisis, periods of change through to backfilling an individual that has been exited. These are all scenarios that require an interim CFO to be impactful, adaptable and results driven.

Typically, we hire interim CFOs for 6-12 months (they can be longer and shorter) to ‘fill the gap’, these need to be individuals that hit the ground running and can adapt to specific business nuances and challenges. Examples could include, size, industry, a specific product & geographies.

Some of the key areas we assess when hiring and Interim CFO: 

Ability to make quick assessments:

  • Interim CFO’s need to immediately assess the financial health of an organisation, it’s operations and goals and complete a SWOT analysis to either continue on the current trajectory or create a new strategy and quickly.

  • All CFO’s need to be versatile but even more on the interim side – working in differing businesses, processes and industries and at pace. Interim CFO’s need to adapt and quickly!

Empowerment, trust & integrity:

  • Building trust and integrity is important in any role, but it is paramount in the interim CFO role not just with the finance team, but equally with the board and across management teams.

  • For me some of the most successful leaders are those that can adapt to understand not only a company’s culture but equally can empower teams and individuals especially in changing environments and if possible, allowing key stakeholders to be part of decision-making processes.

Leadership & Communication:

  • Stakeholder engagement internally and externally, building strong relationships is key to an effective interim CFO but equally taking businesses through a period of change and transition.

  • An interim CFO with a high emotional intelligence can not only help with communication but equally help with stressful and changing situations.

Financial Expertise:

  • Advanced finance & risk management expertise: managing the financial health of a business is bottom line what a CFO needs to do and deliver! Navigating and gaining control of cash flow forecasting, budgeting, reporting is essential but could also be financial restructuring & refinancing.

  • Ability to problem solve and quickly when needed.

Having been in general & specialist finance recruitment for 11 years my key takeaway is that the role of a CFO is going to continue to evolve. The UK economy post covid is turbulent it shows promising signs with GDP rising in the first quarter of 2024 by 0.6%. Interim CFOs will need to continue driving teams and organisations across complex markets and scenarios. But with broader and diverse challenges such as increased adoption of technology & transformation, ESG and digitalisation.

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail or would like any advice on your finance hiring, please contact fi.wallace@reniorinterim.com.


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