VIDEO: Webinar Presentation – CFO Succession: The Right Way to Grow your Company’s next CFO

On May 23, 2013 I presented this Webinar on Proformative.

To get more information on this presentation, please view this blog.

Links referred to in this presentation:

If you have any questions on CFO Succession, please complete the form below and I will be pleased to get back to you.

Webinar – May 23, 2013 | CFO Succession: The Right Way to Grow your Company’s next CFO

Join me on May 23, 2013 as I present a Webinar on the following topic:Webinar - CFO Succession

CFO Succession: The Right Way to Grow your Company’s next CFO

This session is graciously hosted by Proformative, and there is no charge for attending this seminar. To sign up, please click on this link.


Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) know that they will not stay in their current role with their current company forever. The CFO needs to ensure that his or her team has the right talent that can be called upon to replace them when they eventually leave the company (or the role of CFO). Strong CFOs also know that they are only as strong as the weakest leader on their team. This session will discuss the right way for the CFO to attract, retain and develop financial leadership talent for their team, while ensuring that they are setting the stage and preparing for their own eventual succession.

Learning Objectives

After attending this webinar you will be able to:

    • Understand why your success depends on having the best possible leadership talent in your finance team
    • Learn how to identify which areas to develop your finance leaders for future success
    • Become aware of the key components necessary to attract, retain and develop your company’s next CFO and other future finance leaders

CPE Credits are available for this session. For further information, please see details in the “CPE Info” tab on the sign up page.

I’m writing a book for CFOs. You’re invited to participate.

I previously announced that I will be writing a book. I’m pleased and excited to announce that I signed a book deal with Wiley!My Upcoming Book

The book I will be writing, which is tentatively titled A Guide to CFO Success: Leadership Strategies for Corporate Financial Professionals, targets CFOs (and future CFOs) who want to invest in strategies to become better and more successful financial leaders.

As I enter into the heart of writing my first book, I am interested in feedback from CFOs like you that have achieved success and are interested in sharing with their peers the important things they have learned on their personal road to CFO success.

To this end, I am creating an advisory group of accomplished senior financial professionals to advise me on questions I will have, as well as feedback I will need, when writing my first book for CFOs.

Members of this Advisory Group will be sent an email when I have a question for them, and will be able to provide their answers in an online survey format that will assist me with accumulating their answers.

Each member of this Advisory Group will be mentioned and thanked publicly in my upcoming book. Any feedback you provide me with in this process will remain completely confidential.

To apply to join Samuel’s CFO Advisory Group and make a difference to your peers, please sign up here.

I’m looking forward to working with you,


CFOs are not Born. They need to Continually Transform.

There are many accountants and few CFOs. The accounting track is a popular starting point for many of today’s CFOs, but accounting is certainly not the only track to the Chief Financial Officer role.

Butterflies have an easy transformation from caterpillar. CFOs, those that make it to the role and those that are successful in the long term, have a much harder time. In fact, they do not have one transformational moment in a cocoon, but a series of ongoing transformations they must seek and overcome to continue to be successful and on top of their game.

I was fortunate to present in Vancouver last week at the CMA Leadership conference. It was a great opportunity to connect with those who believe that the CFO chair is in their future, as well as those that have achieved this status yet are continually looking to improve and grow.

My premise about CFO success is simple. Simple to say at least, but very hard to accomplish continually. Too many CFOs get comfortable with their employment and their status. Yet I still speak with too many CFOs on a weekly basis that are caught in CFO limbo precisely because they get too comfortable with their status as a butterfly. 

CFO success requires planning: for their current role and employer, as well as for their career. While success for accountants may be about what they know,  CFO Success comes from relationships. Who they know is much more important. What Chief Financial Officers do with their relationships and how they develop ‘like’ and ‘trust’, allows them to accomplish their employment AND career objectives. Becoming a better CFO benefits their employer AND their career.

Successful CFOs are not butterflies. They are so much more dynamic and long lasting. It takes hard work and planning.

What’s your CFO Success Plan?


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Presentation Links: The Road to CFO

Today I am presenting at the CMA Leadership Conference in Vancouver.

As part of the presentation, here are links to previous blogs referred to in the presentation.

Whether you have attended the presentation or not, these blogs are key on The Road to CFO.

    1. Strengths
    2. CFO Relationship Map
    3. Team
    4. Coaching / Mentoring
    5. Starting off on the right foot


If you attended the CMA Leadership Conference and would like to receive my new blog posts in your email, click the Sign Me Up! button in the right column.

Confidence: A key to CFO Success

When identifying CFOs who are successful, you’ll notice that they are:

You’ll also notice that CFOs have another key ingredient for success: Confidence.

Where does CFO Confidence come from?

Experience: Having been through situations before that were tough, that looked difficult to get through and having the fortitude to make it work is the hallmark of an experienced CFO. When the going gets tough, if your CFO believes in the abilities of him or herself and her or his team, the chances for success are greatly increased.

Do you need confidence to become a CFO?

I speak with many people who are on the Road to CFO. A CFO is not born; they are groomed – by themselves together with mentors and coaches. When I speak with someone who wants to become a CFO, within 15 minutes I can tell if they have what it takes. One of the secrets is that they have the confidence in their abilities without sounding like they are full of baloney.

Can confidence be learned?

Yes, it can. But confidence building needs to come early in a career. It needs to come from a combination of coaching and mentoring, building on innate personal abilities. It is difficult for a professional working for 20 years to start finding the confidence in their abilities. Not everyone has the confidence necessary to become a CFO. Nor should every finance professional become a CFO. (Which is another blog topic altogether).

Can you be a successful CFO without confidence?

I haven’t seen one yet. Have you?


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On the road to CFO, there are winners, and there are losers

A recent article caught my attention on this subject from The Sydney Morning Herald by Malcolm Maiden titled “Fegan exits Telstra after CFO snub” .

The article discusses Telstra’s recent appointment of their new CFO, Andy Penn. Mr. Penn, former chief executive at AXA Asia Pacific, was hired after a through CFO Search, from both inside and outside of the organization. It also discusses how Paul Fegan, an executive at the company, has left following the hiring of Mr. Penn, seemingly, as the article implies, due to Mr. Fegan being snubbed for the CFO role which he thought he was going to be appointed to.

While this story takes place in Australia, it is a common one in the United States and around the world. As executives jockey for position to move up the corporate pyramid, the closer one gets to the top of the pyramid, the greater the opportunity is for an executive to be ‘snubbed’.

Does it make sense to perform a CFO Search outside a company when there is a strong talent pool inside the company? Absolutely. If a company wants to hire the best for their very senior roles, not considering “outsiders” in the nomination process does the company a disservice. Hiring the best CFO is a strategic choice. In making these strategic choices, there will be winners and there will be losers.

Are the losers really losers? No. Strong financial executives who build their reputation and their brand can take their experience elsewhere and provide another company with top-notch leadership.

Does using an executive search firm help? Definitely. When faced with a difficult decision to hire the best CFO, using a search firm not only allows a company access to the best CFOs for consideration, it also provides the company with objective process and guidance to help make the best hiring decision possible for this very important role.


I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my readers a very Happy Holiday season and a Happy & Successful 2012!


Quoted in: The Small-Firm Path to CFO

Dear Readers,

I was quoted in an article that appeared in CFO World by Lisa Yoon that was released this morning. Below is the part of the article in which I was quoted. For the full article, please follow this link. As always, your comments are appreciated and valued.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving,



Some Exceptions

For his part, though, CFO recruiter and consultant Samuel Dergel has a more qualified view. Certainly, more smaller firms “are getting more sophisticated” in assessing their need for a CFO, he agrees. “But not all.” Says Dergel, “It depends on the ownership structure.” He notes that manufacturing companies with sales of $50 million or more, for example, may well need for finance chiefs. But at private companies where much of the decision-making is done by the founder, there’s often a tendency to resist turning over the reins to someone else.

From the rising finance star’s perspective, many times “a small-company CFO position will not be helpful” on the bath to a big-company top job, he adds. And in general, a better tack might be to go first to the finance organizations of large companies, and use that experience to move forward toward CFO skills.

Meanwhile, he notes, if there is going to be a jump from a small-company CFO slote to a large-company one, it is best to stay within the same industry, he says. In general, when small businesses hire CFOs, “they usually take the path of least resistance,” he notes. “It’s hard for a small- or midsize company to give you a chance to grow as a finance leader if you don’t have same-industry experience.”

Ask Samuel: How can I accomplish more and firefight less?

Dear Samuel,

I have been reading your blogs and been following your advice. I have laid out my Vision as to what I want to accomplish as CFO, identified the relationships I need to build, and prepared an action plan to accomplish my objectives. I have also started delegating more of my work to my team, and have implemented a development plan to make my team more effective.

Yet I still feel that overwhelmed.

How can I accomplish more and firefight less?

Overwhelmed in Overland

Dear Overwhelmed,

First of all, I want you to look in the mirror and congratulate yourself. You have accomplished a lot on the road to becoming a Better CFO.

I brought your question to the members of the CFO Lounge, a LinkedIn Group where CFOs like yourself can feel comfortable discussing concerns with peers in a relaxed environment. You can find out more about the CFO Lounge in my previous blog post – The Lonely CFO. I invite you to join the CFO Lounge to read what your peers had to say about your challenge.

You have done so much to move yourself forward. While you have done a lot to move yourself forward, I believe you could benefit from planning your days. Just like you’ve prepared an action plan, you need to plan your daily schedule. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

Just because you’ve prepared a schedule, doesn’t mean that you cannot change it as needed. But before you do, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1) Does this need to be in my schedule?

2) Does it need to be done by me? (Can someone else do it?)

3) Does it need to be done now?

Many times we are attracted to do the ‘easy’ work – when we look back at the end of the day we can say that we have accomplished. While you may have accomplished a number of (lower level) tasks, you may not have accomplished what you needed to. This is when your frustration will kick in.

Avoid frustration by spending time planning your day and your week. Block off the time to get things accomplished. If email or phone calls distract you, close your email and turn the ringer off on your phone (all your phones).

You have control over what you can accomplish. You need to take control of your work, rather than letting it take control of you.

Good luck,


If you’d like to ask Samuel a question, click here.

“Get a CFO on board when you are ready to take on the world”

The title is a quote from Fred Wilson, a VC and Principal at Union Square Ventures, who recently wrote a blog titled “VP Finance vs CFO”.

It’s an interesting blog – you should read it. It certainly got a lot of attention in the social media space (CFO, Tech and VC subsector) in the time since it was published 72 hours ago.

I chose this quote to write my blog post on because it was the meatiest and juiciest for me to work with. In addition to my own direct take on the blog which I recently wrote – Does a Small yet Growing Business need a CFO? – I have written blogs that have touched this topic from different perspectives.

Let us count the ways.

1) CFO Readiness. When is a company really ready to take on the world? Are they really ready for a CFO?

2) Promoting the VP Finance to CFO. Fred says that a VP Finance is about “what happened” and a CFO is more about “What is happening right now”. I do agree with him. But that doesn’t mean the VP Finance cannot become a CFO. Here is how. And here is how as well.

3) The Successful CFO. How does a CFO become a successful? They prepare a plan, map out their relationships, get coaching, and build a strong team to support them.

4) Hiring your CFO. How do you hire them? Read this. How do you NOT hire a CFO? Read this.

Come to think of it, there are more than just these 4 ways.

Just read all my blogs.

And, to not miss any in the future, Click on the “Sign me up!” button on the right side of the blog.