Wanted: CFOs Who Know More Than Accounting

By Stewart, Jackie | American Banker, December 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

Wanted: CFOs Who Know More Than Accounting


Stewart, Jackie, American Banker


Byline: Jackie Stewart

Chief financial officers who can do more than just count beans are finding plenty of opportunities to land work.

A string of community banks have hired CFOs in recent weeks. While churn in this position happens with some regularity, banks are increasingly expressing a preference for individuals who are more savvy and sophisticated than those who have historically filled the post.

The CFO's responsibilities have broadened since the financial crisis, becoming more challenging and requiring executives to have an understanding of areas beyond accounting.

"The CFO has to have the vision to work in what has become a more complex environment," says John Depman, a national leader for regional and community banking at KPMG. Compression on net interest margins, along with heightened regulation and risk, add "complexity" to the position.

At least half a dozen community banks announced changes in their CFO positions in November. JPMorgan Chase (JPM) also said that Marianne Lake would succeed outgoing CFO Doug Braunstein, and Edward Resch said he would retire as the CFO of State Street (STT) next year.

Some of the appointments took place after banks hired new chief executives. It is "very common that the new CEO will bring in a new CFO within the first year of the job," says Barry Bregman, vice chairman and global head of the CFO and financial leadership practice at CTPartners.

"The CEO absolutely must have a CFO that they can communicate effectively with and they know they can trust," says Rod Taylor, president of the executive recruiting firm Taylor & Co. "It's like a stagecoach driver wanting someone riding shotgun with very good aim."

Before becoming the CFO at Southwest Bancorp (OKSB), Joe Shockley Jr., met with Mark Funke, who had become CEO in October, to discuss the vision for the Stillwater, Okla., company. Shockley, who succeeded interim CFO Randy Waldrup this month, agreed with Funke's plan to focus on Southwest's core markets of Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

Otherwise, "I would have found a way to say this isn't the job for me," Shockley says.

"It was a unique opportunity," Shockley adds. "The bank is in rebuilding mode. I thought I could use some of my experience to work with its management team and board in moving the bank forward and helping to rebuild."

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency hit the company's Stillwater National Bank with a regulatory action in 2010 requiring it to improve credit risk management. Late last year, the $2.1 billion-asset company sold about $300 million in troubled loans determining that workouts would take too long and be too costly. …

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