Unravelling the mystery of recruiting a top Finance Director – by Ian Sackree 

I am pleased to have been spending a lot of time recently working with partner clients in helping them to recruit the services of the best Finance Directors / CFOs. Without question, this always has been (and always will be) a key appointment, and I can use my previous experience of being one to assist CEO’s in selecting theirs.


But what makes a successful FD; and how are the best differentiated from the also-rans?
Well, how long is a piece of string? 

Most FD’s can answer the question, with nearly all able to come up with an accurate measurement using conventional tools such as a ruler or a tape-measure. But in today’s kinetic world, accurate measurement is simply not enough! Those ‘who measure’ will tell you how much string you have and how long it will last; but if you are not careful, they are also susceptible (often unintentionally) to using your valuable string to bind you up in unnecessary detail, to ‘string’ you along and even tie your organisation in knots. 

The best FD’s can also measure the string – but they offer you more! They quickly establish how tolerant to detail (the art of the ‘fine measure’) we need to be, and – importantly – how much elasticity exists. They will be keen to understand the quality of the string, it’s lifespan, replacement cost, and calculate its breaking-point. Tuned-in FD’s will explore how the string can be shared with others, whether there is enough to go around – and if not – where it is best applied to achieve your objectives. 

The very, very best FD (and the one you want in your organisation) will see your string not as a remaining unit measure of what you have left, but a measure of where it can get you to. Most importantly, the capable FD will search for alternative uses for your string, constantly asking the ‘what if’ questions pertaining to it. 

Like your organisation, string is made of many threads twisted together to ‘form a length’ and has many uses. You need a Finance Director willing to go the extra mile – and who will strive to find out more about your string than just it’s length!  

Ian Sackree FCCA is Protocol’s COO. Protocol is the sector’s leading search and selection agency for senior Finance staff. Ian can be reached at 07795 271559 and isackree@protocol.co.uk

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