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What is a CFO?

A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a senior-level corporate executive charged with directly overseeing the financial activities of a company or organization. This position manages income, debts, and cash flows, and financial planning to determine a company’s productivity and overall fiscal health.

CFO Responsibilities & Duties

The CFO is the highest financial position and the third highest position in a company. Chief financial officers have the role of heading and supervising the accounting division of a company and establishing monetary assurances to stabilize and improve the financial standings for a company, corporation, or non-profit organization.

A CFO must abide by the financial standards of the company they work for, while also being knowledgeable and adhering to the accounting practices and regulations set at the local, state, and federal levels.

The CFO reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) yet remains as its own entity within the company with the ability to delegate tasks within the accounting department.

General duties of the chief financial officer are as follows:

  • Accrue funding for company initiatives
  • Lead and assist in company investment policies and actions
  • Assist with fiscal forecasting
  • Providing cost-benefit analysis
  • Securing and properly utilizing capital structures

CFOs are responsible for the planning and management of a company’s financial affairs and creating its overall budget. CFOs are given the task of leading new fiscal initiatives for acquisitions of other companies and other capital expenditures. CFOs work closely with other department leaders to determine proper workflow of each division and make recommendations.

Further duties of a chief financial officer include:

  • Direct and prepare all financial statements and reports
  • Study long-range economic trends and projections
  • Analyze operations for reorganizing, increasing, or downsizing
  • Compare sales and profit projections to known figures and budgets
  • Identify opportunities for financial expansion into new areas, services, or products

The chief financial officer position is the priority executive that engages in discovering and implementing new investment opportunities. They work with investment bankers to raise additional money for a company’s future professional endeavors.

CFO Work & Environmental Conditions

Chief financial officers work in comfortable, temperature-regulated offices, which host their official documents either in physical or online files. On average, CFOs spend 6-10 hours gazing at a computer or PC due to their work being in digital formats.

To ensure that their duties and tasks are met with punctuality, CFOs will have an administrative assistant to help them perform various tasks. Typically, a chief financial officer may work 10-16 hours per day in either an organized or sporadic nature due to different scheduled appointments that may take place throughout the day.

Hours of work become undefined during key periods of the year such as the close of a financial quarter or during annual reviews, due to constant reviewing of financial data and industry trends. Yet, chief financial officers create their schedule and set appointments on their time due to their top-tier company position.

CFO Degree & Education Requirements

The requirements needed to become a chief financial officer varies from company to company and is based on the entity’s employment and policy regulations. In most cases, companies tend to hire CFOs that have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.

Bachelor’s degree programs related to the position of CFO can be in the forms of:

  • Business Administration
  • Accounting
  • Finance

Although not required, postsecondary degrees in these fields – such as a master’s in business administration (MBA), – with further specification in accounting, business, or auditing are standard identifiers of a skilled and desirable CFO.

To be an effective chief financial officer, candidates need to possess essential skills for effective leadership and workflow. CFOs actively practice developing and implementing constructive, core managerial techniques. They understand manufacturing of products and services, and accurately connect funds and other cash transactions with clients and vendors.

Competency areas necessary for CFOs to exhibit include:

  • Finance
  • Technology
  • Sales and forecasting
  • Financial model development
  • Data mining

CFO candidates may also be well-versed in data visualization techniques for proper analysis of findings and reports, along with product analysis for determining acceptable prices for the company and consumers. A deep comprehension of operational and customer service skills is also sought-after attributes for becoming a high-quality chief financial officer.

How much does a CFO earn?

According to PayScale, the average salary reported for a chief financial officer is $135,000. On the lower end, a CFO can earn as much as $117,000 with five to nine years of experience. Those with 10 years or more of business and finance experience can earn upwards towards $140,000 with the possibility of annual bonuses.

In addition to degrees and certifications obtained, work history is a solid factor for determining the salary of a CFO and taken into consideration at a modestly higher rate than education level.

A CFO is well-compensated for their ability to lead financial matters and help the company save money by developing strategies for overall cost reductions and automating accounting duties. Additionally, these professionals serve as interpreters of new finances that impact the company, while having to connect with investors and employees for feedback and necessary adjustments.

CFO Job Outlook

Becoming a chief financial officer is a competitive path in a growing market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics postulates a minor 4% growth rate in this position until the year 2030 for top executives. For those in pursuit of this position, candidates should be successful in being able to manage budgets and reports for the organization.

In today’s age of digital programs and technology, a CFO needs to take charge of automation technology in the form of software-as-a-service (SaaS) programs and be able to manage risks related to cybersecurity.

Most importantly, CFO candidates are to be well-informed of parent financial government entities like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and how to stay within the range of their policies and regulations for the ultimate success of the company.

Alternate Jobs

Other jobs related to a chief financial officer position may look like:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
  • Controller
  • Financial Planning & Analysis

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