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What is the Job Market Outlook for Chief Financial Officers?

Job Market Outlook October 14, 2013

Chief financial officers are among the most important positions within a company because these are the brainstormers and numbers wizards that develop strategy and keep the business running efficiently.

They are also the ones who prepare financial statements, forecast issues, monitor trends, supervise other financial employees, review reports and analyze market data, and then together with management, try to make decisions that will positively impact the future.

The financial manager obviously has a lot on his plate and holds a seat of tremendous responsibility. It’s not merely a job of creating reports and interpreting numbers; it’s advising senior managers and planning future moves that both avoid risk and lead to big profit. This is a mighty task, and all the more so since most businesses these days are sticking to conservative strategies.

The Job Outlook—Not Bleak, Just Tight

Over the next ten years, most professions will be increasing at a rate of at least 14 percent. Financial managers and officers are slightly less, at nine percent, though it does show a lot of growth in the self-employed population. Another point to keep in mind is that the job outlook can change according to region and according to your own individual profile.

In general, this is a position that requires knowledge of planning, directing, coordinating and the like, and as the economy improves and grows, more of these positions will open up.

In contrast, should the economy further sink, jobs in this field won’t disappear but will simply be maintained—and companies tend to hold onto their best CFOs, since their job is to ensure profit and minimize losses.

The current trend is for companies to look for CFOs who have weightier qualifications, as many financial reporting duties are becoming more complex, thanks to economic changes, as well as international business and a plethora of new laws. This does spell out the word “competitive”, and in terms of getting your foot in the door, you have to rely on your educational background.

How to Impress the Bosses

You can’t display a skill set in hopes of covering up your lack of education because, the interviewer will ask what you majored in, where you graduated from, and what internships or work experiences followed your training.

They will want to know that you are CPA-qualified, meaning you can legally work as a Certified Public Accountant. They will also be impressed by an advanced degree (a master’s or an MBA) and perhaps some bookkeeping work experience.

During this training time, it is essential to study up on the standards and routine issues that might come up in a CFO position. For example, what would be your strategy on risk management, mergers or acquisitions?

You can’t generalize this information; the nature of the business is always going to be a factor. Therefore, many students start focusing their attention on niche areas or certain types of industries. They can build upon their expertise and eventually create a strong foundation of knowledge, as well as a solid resume of niche experience. This will give new workers the edge they need over “generally qualified” prospects.

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