Heir Unapparent - Survey: Most CFOs Have Not Identified a Successor

TORONTO, May 6 /CNW/ - If their chief financial officer (CFO) left unexpectedly, many companies might have to scramble to find a replacement, a new survey suggests. Seven in 10 financial executives interviewed said they have not identified a successor for their position. Of those, 72 per cent said their primary reason for not doing so was that they have no plans to leave their present companies in the near future.

The survey was developed by Robert Half Management Resources, the world's premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals on a project and interim basis. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes responses from 270 CFOs from a stratified random sample of Canadian companies with 20 or more employees.

CFOs were asked, "Have you identified a successor for your position?" Their responses:

    
    Yes................................................... 25%
    No.................................................... 70%
    Don't know/no answer .................................  5%
                                                          -----
                                                          100%
    

CFOs who have not identified their successor also were asked, "Which one of the following most accurately describes your reason for not identifying your successor?" Their responses:

    
    Not planning on leaving in the near future...................... 72%
    Too busy focusing on other concerns............................. 11%
    No qualified candidates currently working at your
     organization................................................... 10%
    Not a priority as you would no longer be with the company.......  2%
    Other...........................................................  2%
    Don't know/no answer............................................  3%
                                                                    -----
                                                                    100%
    

"As more baby boomers near retirement age, identifying and developing future leaders should become an increasingly important strategy for companies," said David King, president of Robert Half Management Resources' Canadian operations. "It is never too early to develop a succession plan. Cultivating emerging leaders and promoting from within will help companies retain top talent while also ensuring a smooth transition."

To avoid being left unprepared, King recommends businesses take the following four steps to identify and groom successors:

    
    1.  Adopt a structured approach. Identify positions critical to the
        success of the organization that should never be left vacant. Also
        determine which senior-level managers may leave in the next few
        years, either because of retirement or other factors. Next, note
        which senior or mid-level managers, with focused professional
        development, might be qualified to take on those roles.

    2.  Groom future leaders. Determine the personal and professional
        qualities that are essential for succession candidates to succeed.
        Look for developmental opportunities that allow your stars to gain
        visibility and hone their functional expertise and decision-making
        skills.

    3.  Broaden the pool. Remember that the people who are next in line for
        promotions are not necessarily those who will make the best leaders.
        Search for high-potential candidates throughout your company - not
        just up and down the job title chain. If your firm has experienced
        layoffs or a merger, try to identify remaining staff who have worked
        hard to motivate and inspire their colleagues, kept important
        projects on track, and ensured client satisfaction. These are the
        people who should be given the opportunity to grow their natural
        leadership abilities.

    4.  Set goals, monitor and follow up. Create clear milestones for
        succession candidates, and make a point to provide ongoing feedback
        to help them progress. This should include recognizing their
        achievements promptly and working with them to understand their
        professional aspirations and interests.
    

About Robert Half Management Resources

Robert Half Management Resources is the premier provider of senior-level accounting and finance professionals to supplement companies' project and interim staffing needs. The company has more than 145 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.roberthalfmr.com. Follow Robert Half Management Resources at twitter.com/roberthalfmr for workplace news.

SOURCE Robert Half Management Resources

For further information: For further information: Robert Half Management Resources: Kristie Perrotte, Suite 820, 181 Bay Street, Toronto, ON, M5J 2T3, (416) 350-2330, kristie.perrotte@rhi.com


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