Passing the torch: What happens next for small and medium businesses?

Report reveals SMBs are less likely to have a succession plan and are most vulnerable to repercussions of a CFO departure

TORONTO, Oct. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - This week, as thousands of businesses celebrate BDC Small Business Week™ in Canada, Robert Half uncovers a risk that affects the future success of two-thirds of Canada's small and medium business (SMB) market: succession readiness.

Who will take over when a CFO leaves? That is a question that only one-in-three SMBs can answer with confidence, according to CFO Succession Planning - a new report by the Canadian Financial Executives Research Foundation (CFERF), sponsored by Robert Half Canada. This leaves a huge gap in the future of a market that accounts for 45 per cent of the GDP and 60 per cent of all Canadian jobs1, cautions the report.

A number of factors compound the issue for SMBs. "On the horizon we face a looming shortage of financial leadership in Canada, particularly those with the requisite critical thinking skills, at a time when global competition is on the rise," said David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources. SMB companies must be prepared to keep the role of the CFO functioning in order to avoid disruption to financial stability and long-term growth.

"By virtue of their size, small and medium businesses are particularly vulnerable as they are more likely to run leaner operations. In contrast to larger organizations, there may not be the same pool of talent to pick from internally to fill a CFO position," adds King. "With the boomer generation expected to retire in the next five to 10 years, it's more important now than ever for organizations of this size to not only think about what happens when a CFO leaves his or her post, but to have a strategic plan in place that is understood and shared among the C-suite and other employees whose role may change as a result of a departure."

To help SMBs mitigate the effects of disruption within the C-suite, King provides a few key takeaways:

  • Plan: The first step is to confirm a plan. It is not the responsibility of the CFO alone to establish his or her successor; every member of the C-suite should participate in the development and execution of a succession plan.

  • Collaborate: In addition to members of the C-suite team, companies should consider other employees whose roles may be affected by a potential restructuring. The key to succession planning is readiness - the more prepared the team is, the less the impact of the departure.

  • Train: "Professional development and succession planning go hand-in-hand," says King. "Starting when a CFO has given notice is too late." Look to include employees who have the potential and desire to advance within the organization in the succession planning process, including the identification of any training that may need to happen in preparation.

To hear more from one of our experts, Judy Munro, on succession planning, join a complimentary webinar taking place this Wednesday, October 23rd at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET. Click here to register, using as RHSuccession as the code.

To access the CFO Succession Planning report, click here.

For more information or to schedule an interview with one of our experts, please contact Naz Araghian at or 416.350.2330.

About Robert Half Canada
Founded in 1948, Robert Half, the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm, is a recognized leader in professional staffing services. The company has seven divisions including Robert Half® Finance & Accounting and Robert Half® Management Resources, for full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance. Robert Half International has staffing and consulting operations in more than 300 locations worldwide, including locations across Canada. Find more information at, and follow us on Twitter at


SOURCE: Robert Half Canada

For further information:

Naz Araghian
416.350.2330 ext. 62132


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