Finance is generally regarded as the lifeblood of any business as it derives any business towards a long-term goal. Business executives such as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) are responsible for supervising and ensuring that a business generates target profits through smart investments. The role of a CFO is essential since their job requires them to oversee financial reports, plan future investments, and monitor the business’s financial health. They are also expected to watch out for any liabilities that might negatively affect the business’s cash flow or create unnecessary losses.
Since the position demands a lot of responsibility, a CFO needs to have the right set of skills. The expectations from a CFO may vary depending on the industry or nature of the business. Regardless, business professionals who aim to become a CFO must work on the below-stated points to stand out among their competitors.
- Know Your Basics
Without the right education and knowledge, considering oneself as the best fit for the role of a CFO is nothing less than mere imagination. The role of a CFO covers both technical and managerial sides of the job. While a professional degree in accounting or finance might be a good start, it will not be enough to make a resume stand out amongst other employees. From an employer’s perspective, employees with a perfect academic record and relevant professional background are always preferable for executive positions. If you aspire to become a CFO, acquiring advanced education such as an online MAcc (Masters of Accounting) degree along with a few years of experience might be the first step to achieve your professional goal.
Undoubtedly, a strong academic record is reflective of one’s understanding of fundamentals such as risk management, capital budgeting, accounting, and analysis. Knowledge and a clear understanding of fundamentals are crucial to a CFO as these concepts consistently influence a CFO’s decision-making process and help him or her in dealing with critical financial issues.
- Plan Your Journey
There is no shortcut to becoming a CFO. It can sometimes be a long, excruciating process with several roadblocks on the way. Even then, no one can guarantee that an individual would be able to reach the desired level. Becoming a CFO is nothing less than achieving your career goals. And certainly, attaining such goals requires careful planning, years of hard work, patience, sufficient experience, and required skill sets. You may also need to step up to various positions before reaching your desired position.
That way, one can retain a competitive edge when applying for sought-after positions. Becoming a CFO is a journey – and a carefully planned journey can save one from several dips and roadblocks. Setting realistic and achievable goals along the way is a crucial part of this journey. Maintain a clear distinction between short-term and long-term goals. For instance, your short-term goals may include attaining certification or acquiring the latest skills to add value to your professional career. In contrast, long-term goals may include reaching a certain position after gaining valuable experience. Lastly, networking along the way can sometimes give you additional professional benefits, which can shave off additional years of grind and lead you to the winning path.
- Develop a Problem-Solving Mindset
The very nature of any business is to provide services or goods that are more likely to solve the problems of their potential customers. A problem-solving mindset helps small and large-scale companies gain a competitive edge over their competitors by developing a strong customer base and brand reputation. However, following the increasing competition and complexities of the business market, business executives come across various challenges that need prompt solutions.
Hence, a CFO should have a positive mindset with the ability to solve problems. Sometimes, simply finding a good deal may not be enough, as you might encounter a risk that needs to be dealt with critical financial planning. Besides, a CFO should equip himself or herself with the right knowledge related to the best practices in the industry. They should research ways following which other executives might solve similar problems and then come up with practical and realistic solutions. Employers always prefer professionals who are well prepared to solve complex problems by developing ways that are in line with the company’s interests.
- Demonstrate Strong Work Ethics
The word “chief” in CFO suggests that the role is that of a top executive in the company. Therefore, the expectations from a CFO are in coherence with their position in the company. Unlike other employees, the role of a CFO demands versatility and leadership. While having sound knowledge of finances is compulsory, knowing how to lead an entire team of employees is also equally important.
Becoming a leader requires respect and authority honored by subordinates. A leader builds that through their credibility, reputation, and strong work ethics. To grow a business, a CFO needs to align his or her employees’ goals with that of the company. Notably, a CFO with poor work ethics simply cannot expect their subordinates to outshine themselves.
Certainly, there is no alternative to technical knowledge, experience, and skill set. However, without proper planning, leadership, and problem-solving skills, an individual may never even make it to managerial positions, let alone becoming a CFO. Investing in oneself through gaining the right qualifications, working alongside quality mentors, and creating a strong network are a few tried and tested methods to achieve your dream job position.