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Sometimes CFOs need to be 'Chief Therapist Officer'

Private equity firms are expanding the finance function, Accordion’s CFO said.

By, Courtney Vein, Senior Reporter, CFO Brew

This article was published in CFO Brew
on August 18, 2023.

Coworking is a weekly segment where we talk to CFOs and other leaders in the finance space about their experiences, their companies, and the larger economy. Let us know if you are – or you know – a CFO we should interview.

Jon Apter is chief financial officer at Accordion, a financial and technology consulting firm focused on private equity.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in finance?

“It’s easy to think of a CFO as merely being a ‘bean counter’ sitting in the back of a cubicle. However, the reality is that CFOs wear many different hats depending on the needs of an organization and need to expect the unexpected—we sometimes need to be a Chief Therapist Officer, a Chief Operating Officer, or a Chief Real Estate Advisor. Our job is to make sure that companies are willing and able to grow in a way that is sustainable, while planning for and measuring success.”

How do you think the CFO role has changed over the past five to 10 years in the private equity space?

“Private equity firms are now much more willing to invest in portfolio company CFOs—and the finance function in general—than they were 10 years ago. Back then, you could have a CFO and two or three people—usually an accounts receivable clerk and an accounts payable clerk—as your entire finance department. Now, companies are willing to invest in highly qualified people, and highly compensate them for their efforts, because they see the value in a well-oiled finance function. This is a reversal from the earlier thinking that viewed everyone and every new hire in finance as an added cost, and not as a potential driver of transformative value.”

What advice do you have for future CFOs?

“Know that you may sometimes need to be the dissenting voice in conversations with senior leaders who are eager to dive headfirst into new initiatives and plans without considering the larger financial picture. Also know that the job responsibilities and requirements of a CFO are always evolving. If you’re taking on a CFO role because you’re looking for stability, you’re in for a rude awakening. CFOs are constantly thinking about their business and ways to improve it.”

What’s something we can’t guess about you from your LinkedIn profile?

“I love wearing costumes to lighten the mood. I wore a green suit with rainbows at Accordion’s Pride Month celebration and have dressed up as Daft Punk, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Three Amigos at our company offsites.”

If you weren’t a CFO, what would you be?

“Initially, when I was younger, I wanted to be a gourmet hamburger chef, but quickly realized that hotel management was more in line with my interests. So, if I weren’t a CFO, I would likely have gone down the hotel management route.”

Chief Therapist Officer

Finance role is expanding

Meet the Author

Jon Apter
Jon Apter
Chief Financial Officer

As CFO, Jon oversees the finance function and serves as a strategic business partner to management, addressing a broad range of current business initiatives and setting up Accordion for continued growth. He is also integrally involved with Accordion Technologies, helping to drive execution of Accordion’s software strategy. Before taking over as CFO in early 2016, he served as a Director within the Strategic Finance Group, managing engagements for numerous financial sponsors across various industries in addition to leading the development of the sell-side readiness practice.  Read more

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