May 7, 201501:38 PMMad @ Mgmt
with Walter Simson
Interim executives are in!
(page 1 of 2)
When you set yourself up in the holy orders of the advice-giving business, there are usually three types of engagements:
- A client says they have a problem. Can you help analyze the complexities and present a conclusion suitably backed up with data?
- The client says they’ve analyzed the problem. Now they wonder, are you available to help implement the solution?
- The executive who was supposed to lead the implementation has quit! Are you available as an interim executive?
Traditionally, these engagements came in a sort of progression. After all, no one would ask you to solve a problem that hadn’t been analyzed yet. So the logic pretty much flowed from analysis, to helping out, to an occasional stint in the executive ranks.
But no longer. Now, middle-market companies are going directly to the interim solution when there is a gap in their executive ranks. Some of my recent experiences:
- A private equity firm hires an interim CFO for an industrial manufacturer. The company desperately needs a budget, a new banking relationship is being negotiated, and a big four audit is due in April. The headhunters are looking for the perfect fit, but the PE firm doesn’t have time for that. Solution? An interim.
- An Inc. 500 company’s growth has outstripped its financial resources. Again, a budget is obviously required. At the same time, hard choices are needed in capital allocation and financing. The company has a competent controller. Could an interim CFO get them through the crisis period and then leave them better off than before?
- A late-stage start-up has caught the interest of a venture investor. Can the books and records be set up, and a business plan published, in record time while other executives work on a product launch? Hire a professional temp.
So this has been a welcome addition to my professional toolkit — especially since my prior experience as a CFO would otherwise have gone relatively unused. I haven’t been marketing as an interim, but the demand has been coming my way. And as far as I can tell, that demand seems to be enabled by technology, where companies are using LinkedIn or other tools to find specialized experts.