• Early investments in clarity, alignment and human capital pay off many times over for PE-backed CFOs.
  • Finance chiefs must establish capable performance in their core function before meaningfully expanding their impact.
  • Savvy portfolio company CFOs emerge from the first hundred days with the strategy, relationships and know-how to unlock undeniable value.

New CFOs who fail to maximize their first hundred days risk permanently crippling their ability to deliver on the investment thesis. Boards are understandably unrelenting in their expectation and will not hesitate to remove an underperforming executive within their first year on the job.

However, world-class CFOs rarely impose bold new initiatives in their first hundred days. Dedicating much of this transitional period to gathering insight on the company’s operations, people, and culture empowers decisive action in the days that follow.

Best practices for a new PE-backed CFO include proactively growing their knowledge of the business, getting their house in order, aligning with the board and CEO, and defining their leadership.

Proactively Amplify Knowledge of the Business

In a survey from McKinsey, 55% of CFOs said “understanding what drives the business” is the most critical activity of the first hundred days. CFOs who rarely venture outside the finance realm often fail this objective.

A new CFO is advised to draft a list of questions for management designed to achieve greater knowledge of their company’s markets, customers, products, people and operations.

A new CFO must explore internal answers to queries such as:

  • “Why do we win?” “Why do we lose?”
  • “Who are our customers?”
  • “Who is our competition?”
  • “What problems do we solve for our customers?”
  • “What is our pricing strategy?”
  • “What enables our growth?” “What inhibits it?”

Specific conversations should delve deeper into the management team’s functional expertise. For example, when meeting with a sales leader