Becoming a CFO

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CFOs oversee all the financial operations of an organisation, including accounting, financial reporting, tax, business control and treasury. If you have started a career in accounting or finace, your ultimate goal may well be to become a Chief Financial Officer.  

We take a closer look at this high level position and the necessary skills and experience needed to become a CFO.

What does a chief financial officer do?

The chief financial officer directs a company's financial goals, objectives and budgets. If you work as a CFO, you oversee the investment of funds held by the company and assess and manage associated risks. You also supervise cash management activities, execute capital-raising strategies to support a firm's expansion, and deal with mergers and acquisitions. Most CFOs are also responsible for managing the corporate investments and will sit on the board.

If you work as a chief financial officer in a smaller company, you may be expected to carry out a range of accounting tasks, while executives at larger corporations typically review reports and data from various divisions within their companies.

CFOs oversee all the financial operations of an organisation, including accounting, financial reporting, tax, business control and treasury.

Education and training needed

As with all ‘chief’-level executive positions, you will need several years of experience at a senior management level as well as a degree in accounting, finance, economics, business or a related subject. Many CFOs begin their careers as finance professionals, external auditors (Big 4), accountants or managers of small divisions, and work their way up to senior positions within a company.

The number of years of management experience you will need will depend on the size of the company and the extent of the duties involved. Many chief financial officer have an MBA, a Masters or another type of advanced degree.

Skills needed

To become a successful CFO you will need to demonstrate more than just outstanding finance skills. You must have the ability to make smart and strategic decisions on behalf of the organisation, and you should be able to look holistically at the company and understand what it needs.

In today’s fast paced environment the role of a CFO has become extremely variable. Leadership, interpersonal and communication skills are also key skills to become a successful CFO.

How much do CFOs earn?

As a CFO, your salary will vary depending on the size of the company that you’re employed by. For example, a CFO of a SME organisation in Belgium can expect to earn up to 200k EUR a year and will also receive a number of other benefits, such as a bonus, based on company performance. They will also be able to buy shares in the company if it is listed.


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