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More CFOs are embracing the ‘long goodbye’

November 30, 2021, 11:32 AM UTC

Good morning, 

Walmart Inc. EVP and CFO Brett Biggs recently announced he is leaving the company—on Jan. 31, 2023.

The retail giant said Monday that Biggs will remain in the role until a successor is named next year, and he’ll stick around to support the transition. Walmart said it will consider both internal and external candidates. 

After 22 years with the company and in his current position since Dec. 31, 2015, Biggs will “begin a new chapter of opportunities in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors,” according to the announcement. He will continue as a board member on Walmart’s FinTech startup joint venture with Ribbit Capital.

“Given the tremendous positioning and momentum of the company, now felt like the right time to transition to the next chapter in my personal and professional life,” Biggs said in a statement. A company spokesperson told me he is not conducting any interviews at this time.

Walmart Inc. EVP and CFO Brett Biggs
Courtesy of Walmart

Do companies typically take over a year to replace and set up the next finance chief? For insight, I asked Vicki Salemi, an expert at career website Monster. “Long roads to retirement and long succession periods are trends we’re seeing, and it’s not limited to finance roles,” Salemi explains. “Increased competition for qualified candidates across all sectors makes the search for top leaders harder. Plus, it takes longer.” 

Especially at such a massive company, which this year earned the top spot on the Fortune 500 for the ninth consecutive year. The company has had a banner couple of years on the heels of a massive e-commerce investment. Online sales more than doubled last year, propelling the stock to an all-time high in November 2020. Biggs said in the Q3 FY22 earning’s call earlier this month that he’s “very excited about the evolution of Walmart into a one of a kind omnichannel company.” His successor will need to be on the same page. 

“Brett’s high character and strong leadership have played a central role during one of the most significant periods in the company’s history,” Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said in a statement. Biggs has “elevated the finance organization and strengthened the team through his commitment to excellence and talent development,” McMillon said.

Research finds that choosing and grooming the right successor isn’t easy nowadays, Salemi says. Her company’s forthcoming annual Future of Work report showed that “confidence in finding the right candidate is trending downward from 95% in 2020 to 91% in 2022,” she says. A top leader giving a resignation date of a year in advance gives companies more time to find the right fit, so they’re not rushing, Salemi says. “Another advantage is sharing business acumen, best practices, and intellectual capital internally before the employee departs,” she explains. In a transition, it’s ideal for an outgoing leader to “mentor and train the team and eventually their replacement,” Salemi says.

One potential pitfall of a long succession period? Salemi notes that a leader who’s ready and eager to move onto another role or retire may mentally check out “if their head and heart are no longer in it.”


See you tomorrow.

Sheryl Estrada
sheryl.estrada@fortune.com

Big deal

Randstad RiseSmart's Q3 2021 Career Mobility Outlook report released on Nov. 29 surveyed U.S.-based HR professionals and employees in multiple industries and found major disconnects. About 71% of employers said they plan to fill 10-50% of open jobs internally, but just 43.2% of employees are optimistic about finding new roles internally. When it comes to reskilling and career development, overall, 73.5% of employers surveyed believe they are offering their employees such opportunities. However, only 52.3% of employees agree with this sentiment. This disconnect is even greater within specific industries, such as financial services, as about 91% of employers believe they offer career development compared to 30% of employees who agree. The report also found that 70% of financial services employees consider problem-solving skills as most important. But only 33.3% of their employers consider it a top in-demand skill.

Going deeper

There are signs the red-hot housing market during the pandemic fueled by remote work, recession-induced low mortgage rates, and first-time millennial homebuyers is starting to cool. A new report by Fortune reviews seven industry forecast models to gauge home price growth next year. Some of the forecast models predict price growth in 2022 will be one of the highest on record. Meanwhile, others are forecasting a rate of appreciation that would be the slowest in more than 10 years.

Leaderboard

Jim Crines was named interim CFO at Valencia Technologies. Crines has served on Valencia's board of directors since June 2016. Previously, he served as EVP of finance and CFO at Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. Through his tenure at Zimmer Biomet, he served as SVP of finance and operations, and as corporate controller and chief accounting officer.

Paul Holtz was named interim CFO at KORE Group Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: KORE), an Internet of Things (IoT) solutions provider. Holtz succeeds Puneet Pamnani, CFO, who is stepping down to pursue other opportunities.Pamnani will continue as an employee of KORE through at least Feb. 28. Holtz is currently SVP of corporate performance, planning, and analytics. He will take on the CFO role as the company identifies a permanent successor. Holtz joined KORE in 2017. 

Overheard

"There aren’t many founders that choose their company over their own ego."

—Jack Dorsey, who stepped down as chief executive of Twitter, wrote his viewpoints on founder-led companies in a Monday morning email announcing his resignation, as reported by Fortune

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