How to Become a CFO

Published: 21st December 2011
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A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is responsible for planning, controlling, implementing, and managing all aspects of financial activities in the company. For people who are carving out a career in finance, becoming a CFO may well be the ultimate Ďtop of the worldí job. Yet, itís certainly not easy to get there, especially in this ultra-competitive world. Letís take a look at how you can become a CFO.

Before embarking on your journey to become a CFO, itís essential to understand the duties, responsibilities, and challenges of such a position. In a company, the CFO is the head of the finance department so itís a highly demanding job. The CFO is an integral part of the executive committee, reporting to the President or CEO of the company. Traditionally, the consummate CFO is someone who is innovative, an expert number cruncher, and proficient in tax planning. Due to the changes in corporate culture and the way corporate roles have evolved, the modern CFO is expected to wear other hats as well.

The modern CFO is expected to be a complete leader. The person is expected to understand all aspects of business operations in regards to product management, sales, marketing, and manufacturing. In this way, the CFO can implement more efficient solutions and control the companyís finances in the most effective way. The CFO has to understand the companyís scope of business and its position in the industry. Rather than occupying the back-office, the modern CFO is the CEOís strategic partner, playing a leading role in the companyís strategic planning and operations. Itís also essential for a modern CFO to possess skills in inspirational leadership, team work, people management, collaboration, and negotiation.

For the CFO, there are plenty of career options. Other than the private sector, CFOs are also in high demand in the public sector. Due to the size and reach of many government agencies, thereís always a need for competent CFOs in federal as well as state governments. Furthermore, CFOs can also work in various industries like health care, entertainment, manufacturing, finance, education, information technology, and so on. As companies around the world continue to grow, the need for CFOs will only increase.

Generally, the basic educational requirement for a CFO is a bachelorís degree in accounting, finance, business administration or economics. Itís also quite common for bigger companies to request for CPA and/or MBA. Depending on the industry or company, there are also instances where professionals with job-specific degrees are promoted to the position of CFO in public or healthcare sectors. To handle the tasks and duties of a CFO, they will be required to undergo additional training. In terms of work experience, itís normal for a company to set a minimum of 10 years experience in a financial leadership position in related industries.

CFOs are very well compensated. In the United States, the salary for CFOs can range from $60,000 to $200,000. The bonus for CFOs ranges from $3,000 to $79,000 and profit sharing ranges from $2,300 to $49,000. Looking at these figures, itís easy to see why so many people aim to become a CFO.

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