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What Do Chief Financial Officers Do?

Job Descriptions September 30, 2013

The Chief Financial Officers or CFO is an executive level worker who is in charge of managing all financial decisions. Depending on the size of a company this may be an all inclusive job or involve only certain aspects. Larger companies have the CFO review reports and numbers from multiple departments while smaller companies may have the worker perform accounting tasks, leaving the other decisions up to the owner of the business.

Nevertheless, the job description typically includes overseeing departments, creating budgets for specific projects, developing marketing strategies and figuring out pay scales.

The Levels of Responsibility for a Second in Command

Most importantly, this professional demonstrates confidence and know-how, since he or she will be handling property and finances, the main aspect of the job. Handling money is not merely an accounting task, however.

The CFO will also be asked to maintain strong relationships with work departments and be able to negotiate with employees regarding pay. It is not unusual for the CFO to act as the CEO or the president, so this is truly a job of great responsibility.

Financial officers, human resource managers, and marketing heads will work, with CFOs, to create a cohesive unit and strong centralized plan. Therefore, he/she is expected to know how to analyze investments, grants, expenses, mergers, economic policy and marketing for his specific industry.

A CFO meets with the board of directors and executives from all departments in order to discuss profit and loss. He/she not only presents budget information but also suggests ways to improve policy and performance.

There are three major sections of work that a chief financial officer covers. First, controllership; this involves reporting accurate information and doing it in a timely manner. Second, Treasury duties involve presenting the company’s condition, especially as regards investments, risk, liquidity, and capital. Lastly, Forecasting is the process of setting a course for the future, identifying problem areas and opportunities for improvement.

Simply put, the owner of a company is oftentimes better at devising marketing strategies and ideas than actually running a day to day business that stays afloat. The CFO handles the most difficult aspects of a job, planning the budget at every turn. A business owner who does not have a background in business might be confused at the requirements of running a large company. The chief financial officer may work with books, but his/her responsibilities are larger than that of a bookkeeper.

Training Required for CFOs

CFOs must hold at least a bachelor’s degree to be taken seriously by a small company. However, larger companies will expect more and rightly so. A master’s degree, an MBA or even a doctorate are oftentimes preferred by employers. In addition, the area of concentration should be in accounting, economics, finance, business or a related aspect to the company product.

Sometimes you can start out in an entry-level position and work your way up to a higher ranking position. This is a satisfying career choice for someone who is not intimidated by leadership and has an enthusiasm for numbers, big pictures, and tight budgets.

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