The successful characteristics of a high-performing startup CFO

It goes without saying that a CFO should have proven success and appropriate experience in a mid- to high-level financial role within a VC-backed company. But there are several other seemingly ‘soft’ skills and traits that shouldn’t be underestimated.

The role has undergone a large-scale transformation over the last decade. Thanks to the infectious nature of the modern dynamic start-up culture, CFOs are expected to take a leadership role in functions of the business beyond the financials, acting as the right hand of the CEO and strategically steering the company through the challenges of rapid scale. As Kevin Deeley, CFO of Quill, said: “The role of CFO has changed markedly in the last few years – and for the better. Gone are the days when it was all about counting paper clips and getting VAT returns filed on time: today the finance leader is a confidant to the CEO and a key member of the senior decision-making team.”

Interesting perspective on the “Founder Interview” – by Kristo Kaarman CEO Transferwise

CEO Kristo Kaarman of Altima’s client ‘Transferwise’ recently published an insightful piece on the intricacies of interviewing and hiring as a founder:


We hired 200 people last year, going from 45 to 245 people in twelve months. My worries about how we’ll all fit together vanished this weekend seeing everyone thoroughly enjoying each other’s company at our all-hands meet.

When should a startup hire a CFO?

Post produced in partnership with Altima

Author: John Watkins

Hiring a CFO is one of the most critical decisions a CEO will ever make for the future of their company. The role of finance chief has evolved with start-up culture, becoming more hands-on across the entirety of the business, taking a fundamental role in shaping the short- and long-term strategies for the future, and effectively acting as the CEO’s right hand. To be in the best position to do this effectively, the CFO should be in place ahead of any forecasted periods of rapid or intensive growth. So if a company has recently secured funding, it’s time to make that crucial hire.

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