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Chief Financial Officer, CFO

Education and Training: Master’s degree
Average Salary: $61,223 – $238,184 per year
Job Outlook: Fair

A chief financial officer (CFO) is a top executive who is responsible for a company’s financial matters. He or she directs the company’s financial objectives, controls the company’s finances, establishes financial policies, manages financial risk, manages the company’s financial relationships with banks, manages financial recordkeeping, as well as oversees the finance department.

A chief financial officer’s duties include directing the company’s budget creation process, communicating with and providing information to the company’s bankers and shareholders, overseeing legal compliance with regard to financial recordkeeping, determining the content and frequency of financial reports, and raising capital as needed.

In smaller companies, chief financial officers may have more hands-on duties, such as the hiring and firing of accounting and finance personnel, while in larger companies, chief financial officers might focus on creating high-level strategies.

The chief financial officer reports to the board of directors and the chief executive officer.

Education and Training Requirements

In a chief financial officer candidate, employers look for excellent academic credentials with a master’s degree in a relevant field, such as accounting, finance or business administration. At the same time, professional finance certifications like Certified Public Accountant or Chartered Financial Analyst are highly valued but not necessary.

Getting the Job

Some companies turn to professional headhunters to find suitable chief executive officer candidates, while others place job vacancy announcements in online and off-line publications. In either scenario, a company’s chief executive officer is often the person who makes the final decision of who the next chief financial officer will be.

Applicants for chief financial officer positions should have demonstrated experience in finance, accounting or a related field as well as previous management or supervisory experience. In addition, employers look for financial expertise, analytical skills, communication skills as well as familiarity with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002’s requirements for publicly-traded companies.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Chief financial officers have a fair employment outlook. There is to be little or no growth in this type of position in the next few years, but new chief financial officers will be needed to replace CFOs who are retiring or moving on to different companies.

In the finance profession, chief financial officers are considered at the top of their game. They may advance in their careers by moving to bigger and more important companies or organizations. Otherwise, they may choose to advance their careers by moving into the position of chief executive officer.

Working Conditions and Environment

Chief financial officers work in comfortable, temperature-controlled offices, where they often spend many hours on the computer, and then meet with others in comfortable conference rooms. They receive assistance from office support personnel for any clerical tasks they might need performed.
Chief financial officers typically work long hours, primarily during key periods such as the close of each quarter or the close of the financial year. These important periods can be stressful times.

Salary and Benefits

Chief financial officers are highly paid executives; they receive salaries, bonuses and shares in the company profits. Depending on the type of company, they may earn between $61,223 and $238,184 per year. However, chief financial officers employed by large private companies tend to earn the highest salaries. In addition, they receive medical and dental benefits.

Where to Go for More Information

CFA Institute
560 Ray C. Hunt Dr.
Charlottesville, VA 22903-2981
(434) 951-5499

New York Stock Exchange
11 Wall St.
New York, NY 10005
(212) 656-3000

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
100 F St., NE
Washington, DC 20549
(202) 942-8088

Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesAccounting & Finance