A chief financial officer (CFO) sits near the very top of a company, with only the chief executive officer above them. As a CFO, you’ll lead business strategy, develop revenue streams, and find funding. There is no required career path to take in order to become a CFO. Instead, you should earn appropriate degrees and gain broad experience.
- Earn an appropriate bachelor’s degree. Most CFOs have a background in business, economics, finance, or management. Don’t worry about the quality of your undergraduate institution.
- Get an MBA. Consider obtaining an MBA if you want to work at a large corporation as a CFO. •A graduate degree isn’t a requirement. It all depends on the complexity of the business and its needs.
However, a graduate degree will help you rise to the top if you want to work at a large company.
- Earn appropriate certifications.
- Find an industry you enjoy. You won’t move out of school immediately into a CFO position. For this reason, you’ll need to work 5-15 years in other jobs, and you should choose an industry you are passionate about. Many CFOs work in the following fields:
– Investment banking
– Public Accounting
– Private banking
– Money management
- Work as a controller. Many CFOs work as controllers before moving on up. A controller focuses on producing financial statements and accounts receivable or accounts payable.
- Because of this accounting experience, they are often great candidates to become a CFO. Make sure your accounting experience is as broad as possible. Gain experience in budgeting, planning, and financial systems.
- However, a CFO’s job requires more strategic thinking a controller position, so simply doing excellent work as a controller is no longer enough. Instead, gain experience in operations, investor relations, and leadership
- Gain treasury experience. If a CFO doesn’t rise through the controller ranks, they tend to come up through the treasury department. Consider getting experience in the following treasury functions:
– Planning and operations. In these jobs, you engage in risk forecasting, pension planning, and strategic development in coordination with the Board of Directors.
– Funding and capital markets. Manage short-term and long-term investments and ensure the business has adequate liquidity. You might also ensure contracts do not unduly constrain your business.
– Corporate governance. Work with internal and external auditors and ensure accurate transactions and audit trail.
– Stakeholder relations. Perform risk analysis for the board and manage relationships with investors, banks, and credit rating agencies.
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