Is your CFO your next CEO?

If your chief leaves unexpectedly, the top finance person is often the natural interim leader. What can you do to be ready for the job?

by: Bill Goedken, CPA, CMA, CGMA

I have been working in and with financial institutions for four decades. During that time, I have attended literally thousands of board, supervisory committee, compliance and ALCO meetings. In addition, I have personally moderated or participated in over 600 strategic planning sessions. The intent is not to impress you with the numbers, but rather to lend statistical validity to the observations below.

At many of these meetings, I meet privately with the board and also the CEO. Many subjects are discussed, including business continuity. As part of the discussion, I usually ask the question: “If the CEO unexpectedly left the credit union, who would take his/her place, at least in the interim, until a full CEO search can be completed?” It is a fair question – and one proper credit union governance should be prepared to address.

The answer I hear over 50 percent of the time is: “the CFO.”

The Interim CEO

When the CEO departs suddenly, the credit union is placed in a unique – and delicate – situation. The employees, members, and community are looking for stability and leadership. Many times the chief financial officer will be asked to step up to become the interim CEO. Whether this arrangement becomes permanent depends on many factors, but at least in the interim, the CFO is the person. Why? The reasons are simple:

continue reading »

More News