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Chief Financial Officer


How to Become a Chief Financial Officer
Job Duties of a Chief Financial Officer
Skills and Qualities of a Chief Financial Officer
CFO Salaries
Influential Professional Chief Financial Officers
Leading Organizations for Chief Financial Officers
Top Cities for Chief Financial Officer Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

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 what is actually happening in the market place, in accounting and tax, in their industry, with competitors and within his/her own company.

Good judgment, sound decision making, strategic thinking and above average insight are also important. To become a CFO, you must be truly good at what you do and passionate about it. Beyond the above, the book stores are full of varying ideas of what it really takes to become not only an exceptional but an above average leader.

How much does a CFO make?

This is a tricky area to provide statistics on. For one reason, compensation for top executives is also not limited to a salary, but applies to bonuses, various types of stock options, and other forms of non-salary compensation. At large companies, it's not unheard of for Chief Financial Officers to make over $1 million in total compensation, but most likely the average salary is around $100,000/year. At small companies, the salary is obviously much lower. It does not always follow that the larger the company, the larger the salary, but it seems to be a trend. It is a consistent trend though that the larger profile the job, the higher the pay tends to be.


Who are some influential professionals in this field?

Simply look at the Chief Financial Officers of the largest, most prestigious and/or up-and-coming companies of today, and you will find today's leaders in financial leadership.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

The American Management Association, the Institute for Certified Professional Managers, and Financial Executives International all exist for Chief Financial Officers.

What are the top cities for Chief Financial Executive jobs?

Because every company virtually has a Chief Financial Officer, there is no one place to go to find the best opportunities. However, many firms in one city, such as New York City or Chicago, Illinois, is a good indication that Chief Financial Officers are needed there.

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