VP/Head of Finance Jobs & Career Guide

By financejobs.net Staff Writer

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What is a VP/Head of Finance?

A Vice President (VP) of Finance or Head of Finance is a senior executive role within a company, responsible for overseeing the financial activities and strategies of the organization. This position plays a crucial role in financial management, guiding the company’s financial planning, risk management, and reporting activities. The VP of Finance typically reports directly to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) or, in some organizations, may hold the top financial position themselves, especially in smaller companies.

The life of a VP of Finance is a strategic chess game. You analyze financial data, yes, but it’s about using that information to anticipate challenges, seize opportunities, and ultimately drive business success. It’s a collaborative role – working closely with various departments like marketing and operations to ensure everyone’s aligned on financial objectives. The most exciting part? The constant evolution. The financial landscape is ever-changing, with new regulations, technologies, and market trends. As a VP of Finance, you’re at the forefront, adapting your strategies and leading the team to navigate complexities. It demands strong financial acumen, but also excellent communication and negotiation skills to be a trusted advisor to the CEO and senior management.
Marcelo Perez-Verzini, VP Finance at Advent International

VP of Finance or Head of Finance?

  • Head of Finance: This is a more general term for the most senior finance person in a company, particularly in smaller or younger organizations. They oversee all financial operations, including accounting, budgeting, financial reporting, and treasury management.
  • VP of Finance: This title is more common in larger, established companies. A VP of Finance typically has a broader scope of responsibility beyond just overseeing day-to-day operations. They may be involved in strategic financial planning, mergers and acquisitions, and investor relations.

There are ~85,000 VPs of Finance in the US compared with just ~10,000 Heads of Finance suggesting the growing popularity of the VP title.

Key Responsibilities

  1. Financial Strategy and Planning:
    • Develops and implements strategic financial plans that support the overall business strategy of the company.
    • Works with senior management to identify financial opportunities and challenges, and to devise strategies for growth and profitability.
  2. Budgeting and Forecasting:
    • Oversees the preparation of the company’s budget and financial forecasts, ensuring they align with strategic goals.
    • Monitors financial performance against the budget, providing insights and making adjustments as necessary.
  3. Financial Reporting:
    • Ensures accurate and timely reporting of the company’s financial results.
    • Prepares detailed reports for the board of directors, shareholders, and regulatory bodies that provide a clear view of the company’s financial status.
  4. Risk Management:
    • Identifies and manages financial risks, including market risk, credit risk, and liquidity risk.
    • Implements risk management policies and procedures to protect the company’s assets and financial health.
  5. Capital Structure Management:
    • Manages the company’s capital investment and financing activities.
    • Decides on the best mix of debt, equity, and internal financing to fund the company’s operations and growth.
  6. Regulatory Compliance:
    • Ensures compliance with statutory law and financial regulations.
    • Stays abreast of changes in financial regulations and implements necessary changes to comply with new financial laws.
  7. Team Leadership and Development:
    • Leads and manages the finance team, overseeing all finance operations and delegating responsibilities as appropriate.
    • Develops and mentors finance staff, fostering a culture of high performance and continuous improvement.

A Day in the Life

Here is what a typical day might look like for a VP of Finance at a large software company:

  • 8:00 AM: Start the day by reviewing global financial news and economic trends that could impact the company’s market and operations. This may include updates on foreign exchange rates, technology sector performance, and regulatory changes.
  • 8:30 AM: Check emails and respond to urgent messages from the executive team, department heads, or external stakeholders like investors and bankers.
  • 9:00 AM: Meet with the finance department to discuss daily priorities and review the financial dashboard that includes key performance indicators such as cash flow status, profit margins, and budget variances. This is a crucial time to address any immediate issues.
  • 10:00 AM: Conduct a financial strategy session with senior finance managers and analysts to review the current financial model and forecasts. Discuss potential financial scenarios and the impact of new software product launches or existing product updates on the financial outlook.
  • 11:30 AM: Join a cross-functional meeting with heads of R&D, marketing, and sales departments to align on upcoming projects and their financial implications, ensuring budget allocations support strategic company objectives.
  • 12:30 PM: Lunch
  • 1:30 PM: Review and sign off on high-value contracts or expenditures that require VP-level approval. This might include major purchases, investment decisions, or contracts with new clients.
  • 2:30 PM: Meet with the CFO to update on the financial health of the company, discuss any issues needing escalation, and strategize on any upcoming financial presentations to the board.
  • 3:30 PM: Oversee the preparation of a quarterly earnings report or a presentation for the board of directors. Review key financial statements and performance metrics, ensuring all information is accurate and well-presented.
  • 4:30 PM: Spend time on professional development or team mentoring. This could involve reading up on new financial regulations, technology trends, or conducting a brief training session with junior finance staff.
  • 5:30 PM: Wrap up the day by setting tasks for the next day, reviewing schedules for key financial deadlines, and ensuring all department needs are aligned with overall financial strategies.
  • 6:00 PM: Depart from the office or log off from remote work, though availability for critical issues or urgent communications often continues.
Commercial Banking Careers

How to Become a VP/Head of Finance

Here is a potential career path to becoming a VP of Finance:

  1. Bachelor’s Degree – Begin with a bachelor’s degree in financeaccounting, economics, or a related field.
  2. Master’s Degree – Consider pursuing an MBA or a master’s degree in finance to deepen your understanding of business and financial management.
  3. Entry-Level Finance Position – Start in junior roles such as financial analyststaff accountant, or similar positions where you can develop fundamental finance skills, including financial reporting and analysis.
  4. Professional Certifications – Obtain certifications such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) to enhance credibility and skill set.
  5. Senior Finance Roles – Move into more senior roles such as finance manager, or senior financial analyst where you can gain experience in managing finance teams and larger projects.
  6. Management Positions – Progress to higher management positions, such as Financial Controller where responsibilities include overseeing larger finance operations, strategic planning, and interfacing with senior management.
  7. Become a VP of Finance – With significant experience in financial management, strategic insight, and proven leadership capabilities, step into the VP of Finance role. Be sure to upload your resume and setup job alerts to find the right opportunity for you.

How Much Can You Earn as a VP/Head of Finance

The average salary in the US for a VP of Finance is $221,307. For more detailed insights please see our VP Finance Salary Guide.

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