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What is an Interim Manager CFO?
The interim CFO must fill the position of CFO in the shortest possible time – he must have correspondingly extensive professional experience. His standard tasks are those of a permanent CFO: development and implementation of a strategy, accounting, controlling, human resources, investor relations, HR and IT, liquidity and budget planning.
In fact, the tasks of an interim CFO go far beyond the day-to-day business of a CFO. Because interim managers are often booked for change situations because unpopular measures can be implemented better by external parties and are more easily accepted by the employees than by a well-known superior.
Risk, change and crisis management are the areas of responsibility with which the interim CFO is very familiar. Ideally, he brings expertise in the restructuring and optimization of processes, so that he can manage projects, initiate and accompany mergers or M&A activities.
Personalities who decide on the Interim CFO job profile rely on variety, flexibility and an attractive fee in temporary employment as self-employed. Independence, focused commitment and always new tasks spur interim CFOs on. You love new challenges and accept that your order situation cannot be planned well in advance.
When is an interim manager CFO needed?
The reasons for hiring an interim CFO are transformations or generally changed situations in the company that have to be managed – sometimes at short notice. This can be the company reorganization, the introduction of new systems, the promotion of internationalization up to the restructuring of the company.
An assignment often lasts six to nine months, sometimes an interim CFO is committed for longer months. At the beginning it is often unclear how long it will be needed, since the duration of change or crisis situations cannot be precisely estimated.
As a rule, clients for interim CFOs are found in companies with more than 100 employees. Private equity companies are often the drivers behind the increasing demand for interim CFOs: Many family businesses cannot find suitable successors or subsidiaries of corporations that are no longer part of the core business are sold to an investment company. These companies are then trimmed for profitability and efficiency, so that the experience of an interim CFO, independence and “out-of-the-box” thinking are in great demand.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: University degree in economics
- Daily rate of: €1,000
- Daily rate up to: €3,000
- Opportunities for advancement: Chartered Accountant
What does an interim manager CFO do?
The standard tasks:
- Management of the areas of finance, accounting, controlling
- Possibly responsible for the HR department, IR and IT
- competent personnel management
- Sparring partner for the CEO and the management team
- control of the company
- Leading the preparation of annual, half-yearly, quarterly and monthly financial statements and reports in accordance with HGB and IFRS/IAS
- Budget and liquidity planning and procurement
- Treasury and risk management
- Optimization of the internal control system
- Accounting and expertise in corporate taxation
- Coordination of tax consultants and auditors
- If necessary, management of investor relations activities (roadshows, analyst and investor support, annual reports, general meetings, etc.)
- Further development of the ERP system and digital systems
- Contact person for banks
Special tasks and projects:
- Planning and control of transformations and processes
- Replacement or increase of decision-making authority
- Replacement of personnel capacity at management level
- Team and project management tasks
- Analysis and conception of processes and scenarios
- Project management with possible special know-how
- Reorganization and restructuring
- Rationalizations and renovations
- Company sales and takeovers, M&As
- Operational/corporate concentration, closures and mergers
How do you become an interim manager CFO?
As a rule, interim CFOs have successfully completed a university degree in economics and can already look back on a long career in an employed position.
The demands on an interim CFO are high: within a very short period of time, he must be able to familiarize himself with difficult topics and identify optimization potential. To do this, he needs experience from different industries and companies. The interim CFOs should have mastered difficult situations in companies more often than not.
Skills in detail:
- completed university degree in economics
- Many years of professional experience in a managerial position in finance, controlling, bookkeeping or accounting
- If necessary, international professional experience including the founding, development and management of foreign branches
- Ability to analyze complex processes
- Initiation and implementation of M&A projects
- Operational knowledge of IFRS/IAS and HGB
- Capital market experience
- successfully completed transformations, reorganizations, restructurings
- Experience in managing employees
- Knowledge of tax law issues
- Knowledge of ERP systems
- Understanding of IT systems and processes, MS Office, SAP
- fluent knowledge of English, possibly other foreign languages
How much does an interim CFO earn per day
The daily rate of an interim CFO, like the salary of a permanent manager, is a market price to be negotiated. The range is between € 1,000 and €3,000per day, in individual cases more. The daily rate (net plus expenses) of an interim CFO is between 0.7% and 1% of the annual gross salary (fixed) of a permanent manager with equivalent qualifications and tasks. This means that if a permanent manager in the position would earn €150,000, the daily rate is typically around €1,300 to €1,500. In board or managing director positions – especially in cases of restructuring (because of liability issues) – the rate can also be €3,000 and above. As a rule, travel costs between home and place of work or hotel costs and expenses are added to the daily rate.
What do you expect from the interim manager CFO?
Interim CFOs are highly flexible, both mentally and physically: ten-hour days in a six-day week are not the norm, but possible. Resistance to stress is therefore a helpful and necessary prerequisite for this job profile. With all of this, the interim managers enjoy getting involved with new circumstances, environments, supervisors and employees independently and at short notice. Depending on the type of mandate, they usually live in the hotel.
Interim CFOs are service providers who are characterized by their powers of persuasion and communication skills and who know how to sell their skills and strengths. In order to get started in a new company after a training period of a few days, the interim CFO has to approach the task directly and in a highly pragmatic manner, finding out who the »key players« are and what makes them tick. He has to establish a connection with them in order to know that they are behind him.
He must be exemplary in his management function in order to be accepted and to be able to push through changes. In addition to purely content-related work, this also requires a talent for communication. He must show flexibility in dealing with the managers for the initiated transformation processes. Changes must not simply be imposed, they must be lived. Only if he manages to involve the local managers in the necessary changes can he succeed in a project such as a sustainable increase in profitability or a realignment. This is often a tightrope act, because the task usually forces him to take unpopular measures.
But when the external know-how of an interim CFO meets the years of internal knowledge of the existing management and you recognize each other in their differences, then unimagined business potential is often released.
Opportunities for advancement as Interim Manager CFO
An interim CFO usually ends his career in permanent employment. He is no longer interested in day-to-day business and wants to work on interesting, varied projects instead.
He acquires the mandates via interim providers or via his own network, using his reputation with former clients and professional contacts. An extensive network of former clients, management consultancies, banks, auditing firms and providers supports his acquisition. His references are his career to date and a number of successfully completed mandates.
The case is not common, but some interim CFOs take up a permanent position on the board after a short-term assignment.
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