Most CFOs in Canada enlist external help during major projects

21 February 2019 3 min. read

A new survey from global HR consultancy Robert Half has found that 68% of chief financial officers (CFOs) in Canada work with external resources to tackle major one-time business initiatives, such as mergers and regulatory compliance. The study surveyed 300 CFOs at Canadian companies with more than 20 employees.

The study was conducted by Robert Half’s management resources division, which provides interim and project-based staffing of senior-level accounting, finance, and business systems roles. The firm can also call on the resources of its subsidiary Protiviti, which delivers internal audit, business, and technology risk consulting services.

Tackling project-based, special expertise initiatives is the bread and butter of the consulting industry. If a company needs to put in a new enterprise resource planning system, determine the right pricing model, deal with new regulations, purchase a smaller firm, or plan for bankruptcy, they’ll often call on the services of a specialized or broadly focused consulting firm. Alternatively, they can get an intermediary, like Robert Half, to bring in temporary consultants, be it from Protiviti or its wider pool of candidates. The use of "disruptive" digital consultant matching companies like Comatch to source independent advisors is also on the rise.

Of the Canadian CFOs who sought out external support, 60% indicated in the survey that they did so because they needed specialized expertise, 46% highlighted a need for immediate support, and 44% needed help sourcing full-time internal staff. The survey notes that access to new methodologies and the ability to scale teams are also significant reasons.

Most CFOs in Canada enlist external help during major projects

It's probably a truism at this point, but nevertheless digital technology is rapidly reshaping how business is conducted across the globe and across industries.  "Having the right expertise in place is vital to ensuring that businesses are prepared to adapt,” David King, president of Robert Half management resources, said. “Many leaders today turn to the new labour model, which includes seeking experienced consultants who can help provide the additional insights and resources needed for seamless and successful organizational transitions."

“Business units often lack the staff levels and skills needed to tackle unplanned events or major strategic initiatives. A firm providing managed services can quickly mobilize consulting expertise and specialized operational skill sets for initiatives that companies have to get right," Jay Thomson, a managing director in Protiviti’s performance improvement practice, said.

“Establishing an ongoing working relationship with an external firm builds familiarity with the organization's people and processes, further enhancing the ability to help deliver change, thereby adding value to the enterprise," Thomson added. 

Robert Half hopes to be that firm. Based in Californias since its foundation in 1948, the firm is an S&P 500 member, and is renowned as the world’s first (and largest) accounting and finance staffing firm. Robert Half provides interim and consultant staffing, permanent placement staffing - as well as risk consulting and internal audit services through Protiviti. The company posts more than $5 billion in annual revenue, with nearly $1 billion coming from Protiviti.

Robert Half has more than 300 global offices, with Canadian locations in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City.