Transition: Understanding the First 3 Months for a New CFO

Jonathan Michael, CFO of Pinnacle Engines

Pinnacle Engines recently announced the hiring of Jonathan Michael, who will serve as the company’s first CFO. Whether you’re a small business hiring a CFO for the first time or a CFO who recently accepted a new position, there’s a transition period for both parties involved. As both parties better understand this transitional time and how to approach it, they will be better able to improve operational engines at locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions concerning the transition process for any CFO. These include:

  • The new job starts when I sign the offer.
  • The new job begins on my first day.
  • The new job begins somewhere in-between the two.

The reality is clear, though, that the transition process for hiring a new CFO or accepting a position begins during the interview process. Since both parties are taking the time to formally and professionally know each other, the better they can ensure that they fit each other’s profiles and ultimate goals. The more a CFO learns about a company and the more a company learns about a candidate, the easier it will be to transition into this first role.

Of course, when interviewing for a finance position at any company, CFOs should take the time to learn about the financial structure so that he or she can better elaborate on the change and assets that can be brought to the table. This research should continue beyond the interview – should a CFO be offered the job – and culminate on the first three months as the CFO and company work together to forge a powerful relationship.

So what exactly should CFOs focus on to smoothen this transition period?

  1. Learn the numbers. One of the biggest mistakes any financial officer can make is to walk in on Day 1 expecting to learn the numbers and walk the ropes. Instead, the CFO should understand the financial statements and health of a company before Day 1 so that they can get started immediately.
  2. Learn about the relationships. From internal relationships to external business partners, CFOs should become familiar with these relationships as much as they review the numbers.