Responsible for financial planning and forecasting, strategic planning and advising, CFO’s are relied on to more and more these days, and are often the right hand of an organization’s CEO. Given that, there are many attributes that companies look for in a Chief Financial Officer. Some can be seen on a resume or reference letter, others are not seen until the interview. But for those who are applying for CFO jobs, here are some of the common expectations that employers have:
1. Education and Experience: Those hiring for CFO jobs want applicants who have at the least an accounting degree, with a Master or CPA designation being highly desirable. They also want someone with experience; five or more years experience is generally expected. CFO’s are responsible for managing financial risks and being responsible for the staff underneath them, and having experience handling personnel issues and juggling multiple responsibilities is a necessity.
2. Must be a big picture thinker. As this article points out, those in CFO jobs can expect a lot of pressure from boards of directors to be involved in strategic planning, financial advising, and leadership development. To quote the article “The relationship between the CFO and other executive members is critical. The position requires intense collaboration with key stakeholders within and external to the organisation [sic] (such as investment partners, shareholders etc.). Boards recognise [sic] that partnerships with the executive team, the CEO in particular, are critical to the effective execution of the CFO’s core functions.” With many economic developments on the horizon, CEO’s and boards rely on the knowledge and expertise of a highly qualified CFO.
3. Excellent time management. The role of the CFO includes many jobs and responsibilities, which must be fulfilled in order for the company to thrive. CFO’s are responsible for financial planning and forecast, risk management, financial compliance and auditing, job costing, legal, property management, act as an approved for staff accountants, performance metrics tracking, and much more. Depending on the organization a CFO’s list of responsibilities can be pages long. In order to fulfill them, successful CFO’s are masters of time management, knowing how to organize their days effectively to complete their workload and knowing which tasks to delegate and which ones must be handled personally.
4. Commitment to ongoing education. While being a CFO has always been an incredibly knowledge-based position, with new technological developments appearing every day (and new financial reporting regulations coming out every year it seems) continuing education is crucial to remaining competitive.
There are many CFO jobs out there, and with Sarbanes-Oxley many organizations are desperate for qualified people to fill those positions. While the responsibilities of a CFO may vary depending on the size and nature of the organization, being able to have a wide skill set and knowledge base benefits job applicants. Being a chief financial officer can be a challenging and rewarding career path, the experience and knowledge can take a person across the world, and they can find work in a variety of sectors. By knowing what employers are looking for, applicants can better upgrade their skills and understand what will be expected of them.
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