Chief financial officer (CFO)
Chief financial officer (CFO) is a senior position. The CFO has responsibly across business finance including:
- sourcing and managing funds
- managing funds
- performance measurement
- management accounting
- decision support
- financial reporting.
CFOs must have extensive understanding of accounting and finance. They have a crucial role in:
- helping the business achieve its aims and objectives
- supporting the business and financial strategy of the company.
The CFO role sits at the top of a company’s financial operations, with leadership responsibility for ensuring all aspects of the reporting and accounting process is on track.
Entry and progression
CFOs are usually members of a professional body such as ACCA.
The CFO role requires a thorough understanding of:
- accounting and finance
- how accounting and finance underpin business operations.
Progression to CFO is from other senior roles such as
ACCA develops the skills and knowledge required by forward thinking professional accountants, including CFOs.
For those who work as a CFO, or aspire to be a CFO, the most relevant exam options are:
Remember it’s not just about exams. You need to have the right experience so that you are competent – you have the experience and knowledge – to start and continue your career.
High level competencies required by CFOs include:
Governance, Risk and Control
A. Evaluates organisational structures and governance to protect the long-term interests of stakeholders.
B. Recommends appropriate strategies to ensure adherence to governance structures and application of best practice internal controls.
C. Identifies and manages risk appropriately.
D. Uses risk management for the best interests of an organisation and its stakeholders.
E. Monitors and applies relevant legislation, policies and procedures.
Leadership and Management
A. Applies appropriate leadership strategies to effectively deliver business objectives.
B. Leads, motivates and manages people to optimise performance and effectiveness.
C. Collaborates, supports and works to achieve the objectives of the organisation, harnessing appropriate digital technologies.
D. Acts proactively and thinks strategically, in anticipating organisational needs, recognising the wider business environment and dynamics.
Stakeholder Relationship Management
A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.
B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholders.
C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.
D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.
E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.
Strategy, Technology and Innovation
A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.
B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop plans and objectives.
C. Evaluate, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.
D. Adopts and applies innovative methods and technologies to implement strategy and manages change.
Ethics and Professionalism
A. Develops advanced ethical values and professional skills in the promotion of public interest and the profession.
B. Demonstrates personal effectiveness in fast changing environments.
C. Encourages innovative thinking within the context of professional scepticism.
D. Thinks proactively about the future, applying professional judgement and commercial intelligence and seeks specialist input when needed.
E. Communicates effectively and influences others.
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Careers in finance
Read real-life case studies of ACCA members and students to learn more about their careers and the industries, sectors and roles they work in.