Monday, May 18, 2009

Leading Recruiter Sees Opportunity for Finance Executives

It’s easy to stay where you are in tough times. But to the risk-takers come rewards, says a leading recruiter of high-level finance executives.

Scott Simmons, a founding partner of Chicago-based Crist/Kolder Associates, says that may mean leaving secure positions at stable companies for struggling organizations. Crist/Kolder places chief financial officers and other senior executives at large, publicly traded firms. Simmons says that managers who can help turn around these companies in the present recession will boost their careers more than they would staying put. “You go to a place where the share price is low and you pull the business out of tough times – even if it means the sale of the business – it’s a great career builder,” Simmons says. He says that many finance executives are “understandably” reluctant to switch firms in tough economic times. “In a recession, people lose focus on career development,” Simmons says, adding that some executives are reluctant to leave even firms that are unlikely to offer career growth possibilities. "(They) think that they should stick with the devil because it’s the devil they know,” he says.

Crist/Kolder places about 25 CFOs per year plus direct reports, CEOs and board members in a range of industries. The economy has buffeted the firm. Revenues are flat this year, Simmons says, although Crist/Kolder has completed several high-level assignments since February, including the CFOs for Bausch & Lomb, DineEquity (parent company of the restaurant chains Applebee’s and IHOP) and Erie Insurance Group. It has also been retained to fill the chief executive/chair vacancy at the financial services company Integra. Simmons says that clients are seeking expertise in operations and cost-cutting more than experience in helping companies expand. “Market changes require different skills,” Simmons says. 

No comments: