The CFO position has changed radically over the course of the last two decades. In the past a company’s Chief Financial Officer was defined almost more like a business’s chief accountant whereas today, CFOs are innovating new business models, optimizing technologies, and making huge proactive contributions. No wonder the growing interest from young finance professionals. If this includes you, Popl is here to help. Here’s what you need to know about how to be a CFO.
A Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is a senior executive responsible for managing the financial activities of an organization. The CFO's duties typically include financial planning and analysis, budgeting and forecasting, financial reporting, and managing relationships with financial institutions and other financial partners. The CFO may also be responsible for developing and implementing financial strategies, and for ensuring that the organization's financial practices are in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. CFOs often work closely with the CEO and other senior executives to make strategic financial decisions for the organization.
A CFO’s responsibilities depend on the size of the company and, of course, the dynamics of the specific company. But, in general, the role of Chief Executive Officer is reserved for larger corporations and, as such, involves much more than just, say, advanced accounting work. Typical CFO responsibilities include things like the following:
Unlike some of the other C-level roles which can be earned and achieved through non traditional methods, the CFO role usually requires a more “credentialed” background. This often means impressive academic credentials and specific training.
Here are some actions you can take to help become a CFO:
Being a great CFO means not just in-the-weeds financial skills and knowledge, but also high-level leadership skills and the essential ability to understand big-picture goals. Here are some skills important to the best CFOs:
The salary of a CFO can vary widely depending on a variety of factors, including the size and industry of the organization, the CFO's level of experience and education, and the location of the company. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for financial managers, including CFOs, was $129,890 in May 2020. The top 10% of financial managers earned more than $208,000 per year, while the bottom 10% earned less than $70,530.
CFOs at larger organizations or in industries with high demand for financial management expertise may earn higher salaries. In addition, CFOs who have advanced degrees, such as a master's in business administration (MBA), may also earn higher salaries.
It is important to note that the salary of a CFO may also include additional compensation, such as bonuses and stock options, depending on the company's policies and the individual's performance.
While some CFOs may not get the “face-time” they deserve, there are still plenty of well-known (and critically important) Chief Financial Officers who aspiring CFOs can look to for wisdom and inspiration:
Here are some useful resources for those interested in becoming a Chief Financial Officer:
There you have it, everything you need to know about how to become a Chief Financial Officer. Remember that acquiring the position of CFO takes time, yes, but also diligence and focus. If financial topics and business innovation are interests of yours there’s no reason that the “process” of growing into the role of CFO isn’t something you should enjoy. Learn to love the process - learn to love the day-in-day out work of honing-your-skills, and if you focus on doing quality work daily you will undoubtedly arrive at any goal you set.
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