What it takes to be an FD in the Private Equity World

What it takes to be an FD in the Private Equity World
1 Sep 2023

What it takes to be an FD in the Private Equity World

In the dynamic world of private equity, finding the right Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or Finance Director (FD) is crucial for the success of any venture. As the first point of contact for any private equity house, the CFO/FD plays a pivotal role in fostering a strong and transparent relationship between the company and its investors. We had the privilege of interviewing several experienced CFOs and FDs in the private equity industry to understand what it takes to excel in this demanding role.

Building Trust and Maintaining Open Communication

The CFO/FD in a private equity-backed company must be someone in whom the investors have confidence. This individual should not only be highly capable in their role but also possess a deep understanding of private equity requirements and drivers. Karl Lloyd, FD at Club L London told us one of the key aspects of their role is to maintain an open and honest relationship with the investors, even when delivering bad news. Being transparent and forthcoming about challenges, along with providing a well-thought-out recovery plan, helps build trust and credibility with the private equity house.

Leadership with Collaboration and Communication

Effective leadership in the private equity industry involves collaboration and communication. The CFO/FD needs to work closely with the senior management team, both internally and externally, to address issues promptly and progress toward strategic priorities with a sense of urgency. Uniting the entire team and aligning them with the company's goals are critical for success.

Networking and Staying Connected

Networking and staying well-connected are essential for in this role. By connecting and learning from others who have gone through similar experiences, CFOs/FDs can gain valuable insights and discover solutions they might not have considered otherwise. This active networking can provide a support system and valuable resources for navigating the challenges of the private equity world.

Sean Taylor, FD at Commhoist believes when it comes to exchanging ideas with other industry professionals, the focus should be on how CFOs/FDs can help others rather than what they can gain personally. This approach fosters better listening skills, meaningful connections, and, ultimately, adds value to their services.

Bridging the Gap Between Investors and Executives

For CFOs/FDs working with businesses experiencing their first PE relationship, their role becomes that of a mediator, facilitator, and translator. They must understand the goals and expectations of both the executive team and the investors. Aligning these two parties and managing expectations becomes crucial, especially when the company's priorities shift toward value creation, maximizing EBITDA, and achieving growth.

Leadership with a Focus on Entrepreneurship

In a PE-backed business, leadership is about supporting the entrepreneurial instincts of the entire team. CFOs/FDs must foster an environment that encourages growth, profitability, and innovation while ensuring a robust and reliable control environment.

Navigating Challenges and Conflicts

PE houses may not always deeply understand the day-to-day operations of the businesses they invest in. When challenges arise and things don't go as planned, CFOs/FDs must navigate these situations carefully. They need to communicate clearly and concisely with investors, outlining the reasons for any deviations and presenting rectification plans to keep the investors informed and confident.

The private equity world is full of highs and lows for CFOs/FDs. Successful exits are exhilarating, as they signify the accomplishment of goals. On the other hand, underperformance is highly stressful and puts immense pressure on CFOs/FDs from all sides. Additionally, the ultra-capitalist nature of the industry can sometimes lead to challenging and uncomfortable situations.

Filling your next executive role with Four Executive

At FOUR, we understand the critical impact that executive appointments can have on your business. That's why our executive search process is designed to identify the perfect candidate who will lead your business to success. We start with a comprehensive briefing, conducting in-depth analyses and detailed profiling to ensure we present you with the most suitable candidates. Leveraging our industry expertise and extensive network in the referrer and advisory world, we provide valuable insights into the markets in which your business operates.

When it comes to finding the right FD for your company in the private equity world, we take pride in our meticulous approach, leveraging our industry knowledge and network to provide you with the perfect match for your business needs.

If you would like to know more about our Four Executive division, call Neil Whitaker on 07977 498 186 or email neil@4recruiting.co.uk.


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