One of the few executives who direct the organization at the enterprise level is the chief financial officer. It is a large, complex, and demanding responsibility, even in the most basic of business environments. This responsibility is particularly mission-critical in volatile times. Thus, identifying the delicate blend of traits and qualifications your next financial executive must embody goes beyond resumes and references.

In addition to a stellar CV, a top-performing financial executive will also possess a variety of soft skills which increase his or her value as a strategic asset–and serve as a better indicator of alignment with your organization’s culture and objectives. As you’re considering the experiences and qualities that make up your ideal financial executive candidate profile, make sure you’re considering these soft skills and how they could impact your business when you hire a new candidate for an open position. 

Cross-Functional Communication Skills

It’s common for financial executives to find themselves communicating with a variety of constituencies throughout the company. It’s important that a financial executive has the right skills to communicate effectively with all the members of your team, particularly those who do not have a financial background. Your CFO or controller should possess a general communicative openness that makes it easier to establish expectations or for other employees to get answers to their questions. 

Creative Problem-Solving Skills

While finance is often a numbers-based job, raw numbers aren’t the most important element in any business. Sometimes, it takes creative solutions to figure out how to cut the budget, decrease costs, or spend available funds in the most effective manner possible. A financial executive with demonstrated creative problem-solving skills will be able to consider unconventional solutions for addressing problems as they come up, putting him in a better position to help your business through difficult financial times. 


Many financial executives enjoy a position of power within the company. When you hire, it’s important to consider a candidate’s ability to interface with collaborative partners. Each employee in your company is an important part of the team that keeps the larger company running smoothly. If your financial executive does not integrate well with that team, those employees may be consistently at odds with the executive–and unwilling to accept whatever solutions he might offer. Ask for examples of results achieved collaboratively.


Finance is a numbers game, but it has a real human impact. Managing the finances of a company, therefore, also often requires empathy. There will consistently be needs within your departments that cannot be addressed within the current budget. Your tech team might need new tools in order to protect the company more effectively or replace outdated equipment. Your marketing department may need a larger budget to meet its dreams and plans for specific projects. A good financial executive will be able to empathize with those employees, share in their disappointment when budget goals aren’t possible, and help come up with creative solutions. 


Companies go through financial highs and lows. A good financial executive is prepared to help weather those highs and lows, then dive back in with resilience, even after difficult challenges come their way. They’re prepared to deal with those challenges and bounce back, rather than letting those challenges negatively impact their work or take them down. You want your financial executive to stay with your company through the lows, come up with creative solutions to keep things moving, and then move confidently into the high periods again. 


A good financial executive is a true strategic business partner, dedicated to your company and ready to go the extra mile for its employees. Ideally, you want a financial executive who is in line with your mission, your purpose, and your values. Your next financial executive certainly needs the hard skills required to manage a variety of financial challenges–and will enjoy the challenge of using those skills–but will also show dedication to advancing his or her skills in the best interest of the company. 

Enlist a Financial Leadership recruitment expert.

Hiring top financial talent is harder than ever, and the stakes are higher. If your hiring outcomes aren’t where they need to be, schedule a confidential call with CCY. We’ve placed hundreds of CFOs and controllers nationwide based on fit and alignment in addition to abilities. We’ll help you find the next financial leader to take your company to the next level.