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Chief Financial Officer
How to become a Chief Financial Officer
The path to Chief Financial Officer isn't always straightforward. Chief Financial Officers are chief executives, but as they oversee the financial portions of the business, their backgrounds tend to be in accounting, consulting, finance and other related fields. On the whole, many Chief Financial Officers hold bachelors and masters degrees in a field of business, but not all.
The more important part of a Chief Financial Officers resume is the experience vs. the education, it seems, although attending a top rated school may open up the choicest opportunities for businesspeople starting out. A strong track record in business, public office and sometimes academia with an emphasis on bringing about solid results, making sound decisions, and keeping a company out of trouble would probably best describe the backgrounds of most successful Chief Financial Officers.
In the business world, there is only one Chief Financial Officer per company, so the path to Chief Financial Officer is a highly competitive one, as well. CFOs are found in almost every organization, including not-for-profit, corporations, government and related entities and firms.
What does a Chief Financial Officer do?
Chief Financial Officers are the leaders of a company's or organization's financial matters, which often includes providing leadership through setting financial goals and objectives, overseeing budgets, appointing department heads for areas like accounting, finance, tax, etc., and participating in the overall vision setting and leadership of the company with the rest of the chief executives.
The Chief Financial Officer is not autonomous, however and does report directly to the Chief Executive Officer and also to the board of directors, if there is one. The role as the chief financial officer also has a lot to do with risk management for the company, which is related to the application of appropriate accounting principles, oversight of how money flows into and out of the business and also provision of seasoned perspective and experience through large transactions, like going public, mergers or acquisitions.
What skills or qualities do I need to become a Chief Financial Officer?
Chief Financial Officers need to have strong intuition about what needs to happen financially in a company and how to execute that next step for success. Corporate Chief Financial Officers of public companies have seen a dramatic increase in the risk and responsibility in their roles with significant accounting changes in the US in 2004 (i.e. the Sarbanes-Oxley Act).
Because the career duration for Chief Financial Officers has been dramatically decreasing as well over the past several years, CFOs have to have a strong network of connections when it comes time to move onto the next phase of their career. Chief Financial Officers need an exceptional ability to process large amounts of sometimes disparate data to understand...