Finding an Effective Hospital CFO: Key Traits to Look For | Hospital CFO Recruiters

      Finding an Effective Hospital CFO: Key Traits to Look For

      Written by Bruce Henry, Healthcare Executive Search Practice Leader

      A hospital Chief Financial Officer is a highly qualified professional who can significantly impact your organization’s bottom line. The CFO plays an essential role in developing strategies for managing finances for the future and overseeing financial operations.

      To find the right person for this critical position, you need to know what qualities you’re looking for. Pay special attention to past experience and be on the lookout for some key traits when hiring a hospital CFO (and you can find key traits for hospital CEO recruitment here).

      Responsibilities of a Hospital CFO

      A hospital CFO is responsible for overseeing all financial matters related to the hospital, including:

      • Managing budgets and personnel allocations
      • Preparing financial statements, reports, and forecasts
      • Negotiating contracts with vendors and suppliers
      • Developing policies for purchasing supplies and equipment

      The hospital CFO role includes analyzing and planning for budgets, analyzing income and expenses, and ensuring that all costs are within budget. They also oversee insurance claims, billing, investments, and payroll.

      The hospital CFO manages the hospital’s money, including capital expenditures and cash flow. They must also ensure that the hospital has all of the necessary documentation to file taxes correctly.

      Goals for a Hospital Chief Financial Officer

      A successful hospital CFO will understand the goals of your organization — both short-term and long-term. In addition, they will provide information about these goals to board members, senior managers, and other stakeholders on an ongoing basis so that they can make informed decisions about how best to allocate resources. 

      For example, suppose your organization has set a goal of increasing patient satisfaction by 5% over the next year. In that case, your CFO might use surveys or focus groups to gather input from staff members about ways in which they could improve their interactions with patients. 

      Educational Background of Successful Hospital CFOs

      Typically, CFOs for hospitals have:

      • A master’s degree or MBA
      • A CPA certification
      • Experience in other healthcare finance roles before taking on their executive position

      The most common degrees are business administration and accounting but also look for individuals with degrees in health services administration or public health administration. 

      In addition, MBA candidates may be preferable due to the amount of business management and leadership training they’ve had compared to someone with only an undergraduate degree.

      Prior Work Experience for Hospital CFOs

      When looking for a Hospital CFO, it is vital to find someone with extensive knowledge of accounting practices and experience managing large staffs and budgets. In addition, candidates must have:

      • Strong leadership skills
      • Communication abilities
      • A willingness to make decisions based on facts, rather than emotion

      When hiring for this position, it’s important to remember that the hospital’s success depends on its financial health, so it’s critical that you hire someone who is both academically qualified and capable of managing finances effectively.

      Traits of Successful Hospital CFOs

      When looking for a new CFO, it’s essential to find someone with the right qualifications and experience, but you should also look for certain personality traits that will help them succeed in their new role.

      The ideal hospital CFO has many traits that make them successful. Here are some of the ideal characteristics to look for when hiring your next hospital CFO.

      1. Resourcefulness

      Resourcefulness is essential for any finance professional, especially for those at the helm of hospitals and health systems. In addition to handling day-to-day financial operations, successful hospital CFOs must also be able to adapt in response to changing regulatory requirements or other external factors. 

      For example, in recent years, many organizations have had to contend with rising healthcare costs and changes in reimbursement models.

      2. Collaborative Leadership Abilities

      Hospital CFOs must be able to manage multiple stakeholders — including physicians, patients, and vendors — while overseeing complex processes such as insurance claims processing and other financial transactions. 

      Effective leaders know how to motivate their teams while maintaining a collaborative relationship with other departments within the organization. In addition, good leaders learn how to delegate responsibilities so they don’t become overwhelmed.

      3. Strong Communication Skills

      Hospital CFOs must communicate effectively at all levels within and outside their organizations — including with board members, investors, and other stakeholders who may have different perspectives on how best to run things. 

      They must also be able to communicate complex financial topics in a simple way that everyone can understand without losing important information.

      4. Analytical Thinking

      Hospital CFOs need to look at the numbers and determine where the organization can make improvements. They also need to communicate those findings in a clear and persuasive way. 

      These skills are essential for any business leader, but they’re vital for someone who is in charge of finances at a hospital, where decisions can affect patients’ lives immediately.

      5. Willingness to Take Calculated Risks

      A good hospital CFO will take risks when necessary, but they’ll also be careful not to gamble away the hospital’s future. Hospital budgets are often tight, so any financial decisions made on the institution’s behalf must be carefully considered. A wrong decision could lead to bankruptcy or other dire consequences.

      6. Flexibility

      Hospitals operate in a variety of different industries with different types of patients. One day they may be treating cancer patients and the next, they might have an influx of emergency surgeries due to car accidents or other incidents. A flexible and effective hospital CFO can adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

      7. Knowledge of Your Industry

      The most effective hospital CFOs know the ins and outs of the industry, so they can help set strategies that will meet an organization’s overall goals. They’ll also provide insight into how your competitors operate so you can stay ahead of them in terms of pricing and services.

      How to Find an Effective Hospital CFO

      Finding an effective CFO can be daunting for any hospital recruiting team or executive. You have to consider many different requirements while also looking for someone with a great deal of experience in the healthcare industry. 

      Taking the time to ensure that you hire the right person will pay off when your hospital enjoys an effective, efficient leadership team. When interviewing potential candidates, look for experienced professionals who also have the traits listed above. These guidelines will give you the best chance of success when hiring a new CFO (so will offering a competitive compensation package and the right hospital CFO salary).

      National Healthcare Executive Search Firm

      Our hands-on healthcare executive recruiters have been recognized as the some of the best hospital CFO search experts, specialty pharmacy, dental, PBM, and behavioral health recruiters for years. Backed by deep experience in the private, public, pre-IPO, and non-profit sectors, Cowen Partners is proud to be a leader among the nation’s best healthcare executive search firms.

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      Learn how our healthcare headhunters, behavioral recruiters, and elite team of healthcare executive recruiters deliver top talent, no matter the need, via our industry-leading research and resources. Discover the strategy that made Cowen Partners the top retained executive search firm in New York, Boston, Baltimore, St. Louis, Las Vegas, Chicago, Seattle, Atlanta, Anchorage, Dallas, Los Angeles, and beyond.

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