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Chief Financial Officer Duties and Responsibilities

Chief financial officers work in various industries and may be employed at organizations with fewer than 100 employees or more than 100,000. CFOs who work for smaller companies may have a few more responsibilities than those who work for larger corporations, but the primary job responsibilities are the same and include:

Establish Policies and Procedures To maintain a company’s financial strength, chief financial officers set the company’s rules for cash handling and flow as they relate to purchasing, collections, credit, and bill payment, and ensure that the company maintains compliance with these policies and procedures.

Supervise Departments Chief financial officers supervise the accounting and finance departments. They may also be responsible for human resource and IT department oversight as well.

Advise on Financial Performance CFOs help the chief executive officer maintain strong financial performance by giving advice on ways to increase revenue while decreasing costs.

Monitor Performance Chief financial officers use financial tools and software to track and analyze the company’s financial performance, measuring the actual performance against the expected performance.

Maintain Compliance To avoid fees and penalties, chief financial officers ensure that the company is following GAAP standards and federal, state, and local regulatory laws and rules concerning financial and tax reporting.


Chief Financial Officer Skills and Qualifications

Strong business acumen is key for chief financial officers. Other skills and qualifications that are vital to a CFO’s success have been researched and listed below:

  • Interpersonal skills – because they work with and manage people at all levels of the company, as well as develop relationships with financial professionals outside of the company, chief financial officers must be comfortable with and effective at communicating with others
  • Computer proficiency – chief financial officers use different programs and databases to gather and analyze data and create financial models and reports
  • Problem-solving skills – when issues arise in the departments that they oversee, or in times of a company financial crisis, it’s the CFO’s responsibility to come up with solutions to resolve those problems quickly and effectively
  • Analytical thinking – CFOs analyze financial statements, data, trends, and forecasts to formulate plans and strategies
  • Strategic thinking – chief financial officers must excel in creating short- and long-term strategies to increase revenue, decrease expenses, and attract investors

Chief Financial Officer Education and Training

Employers seek chief financial officers who have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in accounting or another business-related field. They prefer candidates who have a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or a certified public accountant (CPA) credential and five to 10 years of financial leadership experience.


Chief Financial Officer Salary and Outlook

The salary for chief financial officers varies based on the industry they’re employed in and the size of the employing organization. The highest 10 percent earn over $208,000 a year, while the lowest 10 percent earn less than $68,000 annually. The median annual wage is $183,000. This occupation is projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow at an average rate of 8 percent through 2026. Because there are many qualified applicants entering the field due to the attractive salary it offers, as well as the prestige, CFO prospects can expect strong job competition. The job prospects who will stand out and have the best chances for employment are those who hold advanced degrees and have years of leadership experience in the field.


Helpful Resources

If you’re interested in learning more about the chief financial officer’s role, check out the additional resources listed below:

Association for Financial Professionals – this Maryland-based professional association was created to aid the advancement of financial professionals and their employing organizations. AFP set standards of excellence in the finance industry by establishing the Certified Treasury Professional and the Certified Corporate FP&A Professional credentials, both of which it also administers. AFP also contributes to the industry by hosting the largest annual networking conference for finance professionals

The Financial Executives Networking Group – the FENG was started in 1991 with the purpose of creating a forum where senior financial executives could network and share job opportunities and experiences. Its membership includes chief financial officers, controllers, treasurers, managing directors, and vice presidents. The FENG is the largest networking association for financial executives worldwide, boasting a membership base of over 53,000 members across the United States and internationally. Members connect through email, conference calls, the FENG newsletter, and sponsored events

The Successful CFO: Key Areas the CFO Must Master – author Tony Tripodo, 2014 CFO of the Year, provides readers insight into the requirements for becoming a successful CFO. Tripodo draws on his over 40 years of industry experience to provide real-life lessons on what does and does not work when it comes to positively influencing and successfully leading an organization as a CFO

The Essential CFO: A Corporate Finance Playbook – Bruce P. Nolop incorporates proven strategies, best practices, and insight to illustrate the power of the chief financial officer’s role as it relates to delivering shareholder value. The book covers how CFOs partner with CEOs to provide shareholder value through strategic plan articulation and execution, capital allocation determination, capital structure management, financial performance driving, and strategic transactions implementation