CFO Jobs & Career Guide 2024

By financejobs.net Staff Writer

Our career guides are produced by staff writers in conjunction with our expert career coaches. We may earn a referral fee from some links.

What is a CFO?

A CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, is a senior executive responsible for managing the financial actions of a company. The CFO’s role involves a combination of strategic planning, operational management, and stakeholder engagement, all while keeping a close eye on the financial pulse of the organization.

CFO Responsibilities

The role of the CFO has definitely evolved. It’s not just about the numbers anymore. It’s about being a strategic partner to the CEO and the business, and helping to drive the overall direction of the company.
Kelly Steckelberg, CFO of DuPont

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.

What is the typical day of a CFO?

In reality there isn’t a typical day for all CFOs because not only will the role be hugely varied day to day but the role will look very different depending upon the organization.

Here’s an example of what a day might look like for a CFO:

  • 7:00 AM: Review key financial indicators and reports from yesterday’s close; check for any significant overnight market movements that could impact the company’s portfolio.
  • 8:00 AM: Breakfast meeting with the CEO to discuss the company’s financial outlook, upcoming investment decisions, and preparation for the quarterly earnings call.
  • 9:00 AM: Attend the senior management meeting to provide financial insights and updates on current projects, budget allocations, and cost management initiatives.
  • 11:00 AM: Meeting with the finance department to review the progress on the latest financial reporting cycle and address any issues in financial operations such as discrepancies in accounts or delayed payments.
  • 12:00 PM: Lunch with a potential investor or banking partner to discuss funding strategies and financial partnerships.
  • 1:00 PM: Respond to emails and calls; handle urgent issues that require immediate attention, such as compliance alerts or urgent financial decisions.
  • 2:00 PM: Strategy session focused on long-term financial planning, including discussions on mergers and acquisitions, expansion into new markets, or launching new product lines.
  • 3:30 PM: Review and approve high-level contracts and agreements, ensuring they align with the company’s financial strategy and risk tolerance.
  • 4:30 PM: Prepare for and lead a webinar or presentation to shareholders about financial performance and outlook.
  • 6:00 PM: Wind down the official day by revising and approving final documents and reports.
  • 6:30 PM: Reflect on the day’s achievements and prepare for tomorrow’s agenda, updating task lists and schedules.
  • 7:00 PM: Dinner with family or friends, occasionally followed by a networking event or industry seminar.

Continuous Activities Throughout the Day:

  • Monitor the financial markets and news updates relevant to the company’s industry.
  • Maintain constant communication with key team members and stakeholders through calls, emails, and messages.
  • Stay informed about regulatory changes and compliance requirements that affect the finance sector.

How to become a CFO

There is no one-size-fits-all path to becoming a CFO. But some key things I’ve found helpful are: a strong foundation in accounting and finance, a broad business acumen, strong leadership and communication skills, and a willingness to take calculated risks and step outside your comfort zone. It’s also crucial to build strong relationships with key stakeholders across the organization and demonstrate your ability to deliver results.
Chris Bahn, CFO of Baxter International

Earn your degree

The foundational step is to earn a bachelor’s degree. Most aspiring CFOs major in finance, accounting or business administration.

Although not always mandatory, many CFOs pursue further education such as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or a master’s in finance or accounting.

Certifications

Obtaining professional certifications can enhance a CFO candidate’s qualifications. Popular certifications include Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

Career path

  1. Entry level position – Begin in roles such as AccountantFinancial Analyst, or Auditor to gain foundational skills in managing financial statements, budgets, and audits.
  2. Mid-Career – Progress to more senior roles, taking on greater responsibility for complex financial analysis and reporting. Roles such as controllerfinance manager or FP&A manager
  3. Advanced roles – Roles such as VP of Finance or Director of Finance.

Once a CFO role is achieved, career progression can still be significant. You may seek a role in a larger organization with more complex needs, a role with broader responsibilities or to gain specific experience for example in capital raising, IPOs or turnaround scenarios.

How much does a CFO earn?

CFO salaries will vary considerably according to the size of the organization and the scope as well as complexity of the role itself. CFOs earn between $100k-$600k annually excluding any bonuses and stock based compensation.

For more detailed insights (where we break down salaries by organization size) please see our CFO salary guide.

Position Company Location Posted
Senior Asset Liability Associate Bank of America Charlotte, North Carolina US 05/28/2024
More
Senior Product Manager (m/f/d)* Munich Re München, DE 05/27/2024
More
Senior Product Manager (m/f/d)* Munich Re München, DE 05/27/2024
More
Global Credit BFC Product Associate Bank of America New York, New York US 05/27/2024
More
Senior Associate, Capital Markets and Risk Capital One McLean, Virginia US 05/27/2024
More
Community Philanthropy Manager Undisclosed Little Falls, Minnesota US 05/27/2024
More
Branch County Administrator Undisclosed Coldwater, Michigan US 05/27/2024
More
Finance Business Analyst Vestas Hamburg, DE 05/26/2024
More
Company
Bank of America
Location
Charlotte, North Carolina US
Posted
05/28/2024
Company
Munich Re
Location
München, DE
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
Munich Re
Location
München, DE
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
Bank of America
Location
New York, New York US
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
Capital One
Location
McLean, Virginia US
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
Undisclosed
Location
Little Falls, Minnesota US
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
Undisclosed
Location
Coldwater, Michigan US
Posted
05/27/2024
Company
Vestas
Location
Hamburg, DE
Posted
05/26/2024