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Exploring Predictive Index Assessments in the CFO Search Process


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The role of the middle market CFO is clearly evolving. Today’s CFO is no longer a number-cruncher with a background exclusively in accounting. Instead, they are working closely with other leaders to drive the business and overall company performance with the help of advanced FinTech and overhauled KPIs and metrics.


As the CFO position continues to evolve, assessment tools are becoming increasingly common in the executive search process. These assessments are great for finding common attributes and behaviors required for a successful middle-market CFO.


Slayton Search Partners works with the Oliver Group, a Louisville-based leadership development and coaching organization, using the Predictive Index suite of assessments. Through these tools, we have discovered three common PI profiles of a successful CFO: Strategist, Venturer, and Analyzer. All three profiles share several key characteristics, including: relationship-oriented, persuasive/influential, less formal, visionary/strategic, and adaptable in meeting the ever-changing demands of the role.
Regardless of function or industry sector, these assessments are a powerful tool in the search process. Below, we dive deeper into the Predictive Index Assessment.


Exploring the Predictive Index Assessment

At its core, Predictive Index evaluates the attributes of the role you’re hiring for, helping to provide improved role clarity and identifying tendencies to be looking for as you interview candidates.


The behavioral assessment was first made available for industrial use in 1955, and the acceptance of the tool has been worldwide. Validated by scientific studies and used extensively for the past 60 years, the Predictive Index assessment enables leadership teams to better understand individual dynamics in order to leverage strengths that impact key performance metrics. Its proven methodology allows businesses to better understand the factors that drive their workforce.


To increase the value of the behavioral assessment, the PI further includes a job assessment that enables organizations to create behavioral benchmarks that are critical for success in the role, at any level of an organization, as well as any behaviors that are truly distinct to different levels, even within the same function. For example, the behavioral benchmark for a staff or senior accountant is often very different than that of a CFO. This reflects the differences in how a staff or senior accountant and a CFO add value through their job in support of the business, where they spend their time and the specific capabilities that are required to execute their responsibilities.


Furthermore, the Predictive Index Assessment offers up to 17 “reference profiles,” which were created through the analysis of millions of documented behavioral patterns. Along with the job assessment, these reference profiles can be used to determine the right behavioral makeup for different roles throughout the organization. For example, the reference profiles most common for the CFO position are the “Strategist” and “Captain.” A Strategist is results-oriented, innovative, and analytical, with a drive for change. A Captain is a problem solver that likes change and innovation, while remaining in control of the big picture.


The Predictive Index tools are not only useful throughout the hiring and selection process, but they also help inform the talent development strategy. In the short term, these tools allow leaders to better understand what behaviors need to be adapted within their workforce and the skills that need to be developed to support those adaptations. Long term, the tools allow organizations to better plan and prepare for the future—especially from the standpoint of succession planning. Critically, organizations gain further clarity into opportunities to develop existing talent into future roles, as well as insight into when it will be necessary to search outside the organization to identify the necessary talent to grow the business.


Executive search has long since moved from a focus on candidate identification to a more thorough candidate evaluation, but these tools enable a more scientific approach to the art. The use of tools like the Predictive Index are becoming more of the norm instead of the exception and provide the means to align candidates with an organization’s culture, creating a higher probability for a candidate to be a long-term fit with the organization. Ultimately, the proper assessment tools can provide insights into more predictable behaviors, adding information that can contribute to more effective on-boarding and talent development. Ultimately, the investment to identify and introduce senior finance talent into an organization is a critical opportunity to ensure every facet of the candidate’s fit-to-role is fully considered, and that information gathered in the search process becomes part of the larger conversation connecting the business needs of the organization and the people strategy essential to meeting those objectives.


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