How ESG Investing Has Changed the CFO Role Forever

Posted by Lindsay Dubbeldee on 8/23/22 9:00 AM
Lindsay Dubbeldee
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What is ESG Investing


6 Critical Competencies You Can’t Afford to Ignore

During a recent episode of NPR’s Marketplace, David Brancaccio had a fascinating conversation with Amy Domini. If you’re like most professionals in the finance and accounting realm these days, you’re likely aware of her work in socially responsible investing – what we now call Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG). As they discussed the growing importance of ESG, they also touched on the growing difficulty that organizations face in trying to competently manage and report against ESG standards. As Domini put it, “the whole goal… is to assure that investors work toward a livable planet, inhabited by people who lead lives worth living.”

Selecting, monitoring, and communicating about how well these investment choices are working is an increasingly complex challenge.  Yet, it’s more important than ever. 

That's exactly what I say about the CFO recruiting process. It’s no longer enough to require a Certificate in ESG Investing or advanced studies in the field. In a field so rapidly evolving and constantly challenged by world events, those qualifications are just starting points. Today, a competent ESG leader must be able to balance organizational strategy, financial goals, regulatory requirements, and stakeholder expectations when determining ESG strategies.

Finding the right candidate is no simple task. But with the right focus, it is entirely achievable.  As you prepare to bring on a new CFO or new talent to your financial  bench, consider these six critical competencies, characteristics, and skills:

  1. Insatiable learners are committed to looking past surface-level facts in order to understand how different investment decisions can impact communities and how those impacts can be measured across environmental, social justice, and other metrics and standards.
  1. Strategic, with a visionary ability to connect the dots between organizational values, business goals, and the long-term well-being of communities and other stakeholders.
  1. Relentlessly analytical, capable of sorting through highly complex, sometimes competing objectives in order to identify opportunities that are most closely in sync with organizational vision, values, and goals.
  1. Powerful communicators are committed to sharing information clearly and transparently in ways that are accessible and understandable to everyone, including organizational leadership, employees, customers, and community members.
  1. Relationship-oriented and strong rapport builders, able to develop the kinds of sustained relationships with board members and other critical advocates in order to maintain support for ESG initiatives.
  1. Personally committed to doing the right thing. The truly ESG-minded CFO is someone who walks the talk and is constantly seeking ways to do better, identifying areas for improvement, rallying the troops to pursue the right goals, and course correcting whenever necessary.

At SkyWater Search Partners, we have made it our mission to become leading experts in ESG recruiting. If you’re ready to increase the ESG abilities in your financial leadership team, please reach out. We would love to talk!

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(952) 767-9000



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