CFOs on Fire

Mark Lonergan, June 14th, 2011

Since we start­ed the firm in 2001, Lon­er­gan Part­ners has always con­duct­ed mul­ti­ple Chief Finan­cial Offi­cer projects a year for tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies, many here on the West Coast. That num­ber has remained pret­ty con­stant in our his­to­ry. In 2011, the num­ber of CFO assign­ments start­ed is already greater than the total com­plet­ed last year and there is no sign of that pace slow­ing down. Fun­ny thing is, we’re not real­ly sure why.

The trend is not lim­it­ed to Lon­er­gan Part­ners or the Sil­i­con Val­ley. Recent dis­cus­sions with top CFOs in pub­lic tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­nies indi­cate that the push is on nationwide. 

Here are some of the reasons we are hearing for the remarkable upsurge in CFO search activity

  • The IPO mar­ket is becom­ing white hot, and CEOs are look­ing to upgrade their CFO before a pub­lic offering.
  • A num­ber of CFOs who have led their com­pa­nies’ finan­cial orga­ni­za­tions have done so for more than 10 years. As these CFOs retire, new replace­ments are required to lead for the future.
  • Sar­banes Oxley is now 10 years old. Com­pa­nies are more con­fi­dent in their com­pli­ance mod­els. Com­pli­ance-focused CFOs are less inter­est­ing going for­ward than strat­e­gy-focused CFO candidates.
  • CEO turnover peaked in tech­nol­o­gy mar­kets in the 20082009 time­frame. CEOs are more con­fi­dent in their own job secu­ri­ty and are look­ing for CFOs clos­er to their own oper­at­ing expectations.

One long­time CFO told me recent­ly that he’s now receiv­ing 2 – 3 calls from com­pa­nies and from recruiters a week, as com­pared to only two calls in all of 2008.

How long the run of CFOs will last is anyone’s guess. But if you have a good one, this might be the time to make him/​her feel good about stay­ing put.

Mark Lonergan

Founder & Managing Partner, Lonergan Partners

Specialties: Board & CEO placements


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Mark Lonergan Portrait