Chief Finance Officer or CFO is among the most coveted positions in an organisation. CFOs function directly under the CEO and are responsible for a company’s overall financial performance and work. They interact with stakeholders, manage staff in the finance department, and offer sound advice on long-term business and financial planning to the CEO and senior management.
This leadership role demands extensive industry experience and domain-specific knowledge. Companies look for individuals with a good understanding of various finance subjects and management and business concepts to handle such a vital role.
While many dreams of becoming a CFO, it is necessary to know which skills you must possess to fit into this role. In this article, we’ll throw light on the job role of a CFO and their skills. By the end of it, you’ll have a fairly good idea of how to become a CFO with an MBA degree.
What are the Responsibilities of a CFO?
A CFO has a highly complex job as it involves managing all the financial aspects of an organisation. They supervise the accounting department, share data and insights with the necessary stakeholders, and ensure that the business functions in compliance with the relevant regulations. Paying dividends to the shareholders and filing taxes for the organisations are a few other vital responsibilities that CFOs bear.
A CFO is responsible for identifying their company’s financial weaknesses and strengths to improve on the weak areas and create plans accordingly. A CFO’s job has transformed significantly over time as companies now operate in a globalised and fast-paced economy.
Additional responsibilities of a CFO are:
- Decide on investment strategies while considering liquidity risks.
- Conduct risk management by analysing the company’s investments and liabilities.
- Manage the company’s financial planning.
- Handle the vendors and ensure their interactions remain smooth.
- Set up and manage the company’s finance IT infrastructure.
- Make sure the cash flow is suitable for the organisation’s operations.
- Manage the team of financial analysts and financial controllers.
As you can see, a CFO shoulders multiple responsibilities of an organisation, but it does not go without rewards. The average pay of a Chief Financial Officer in the US is $395,882 per annum. Pay for CFOs starts from $215,289 and goes up to $600,857 per annum.
In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal, the pay increase for CFOs is outpacing the pace of CEOs’ pay growth. The demand for skilled and experienced chief financial officers is high and is expected to increase steadily.
Pay for a CFO depends on multiple factors, including their experience, location, skills, and industry. You should keep these factors in mind while analysing a job’s pay and benefits.
What skills should a CFO have?
Conducting all the duties as a CFO requires deep knowledge of financial planning and business strategy concepts. You must also be familiar with the industry of your company and its different avenues. To drive their company’s finances, CFOs must be skilled at planning while considering various factors such as the company’s capital, operation costs, the available resources, and desired goals.
Unlike most management roles, where you focus solely on one or two aspects of a business, as a CFO, you’ll need to consider a large number of factors while making any decision. Thus, you must have strong analytical and problem-solving skills. Apart from this, CFOs must also be master negotiators with excellent interpersonal skills.
How to become CFO?
After seeing the required skills and the responsibilities a CFO has, you might feel overwhelmed. However, with the right experience, skills, and knowledge, you can easily bag this role. The first step would be to gain in-depth business and financial expertise. And the next step would be to develop business acumen and management skills.
What better than an MBA program to acquire these skills?
How MBA helps you in becoming a CFO?
An MBA program would teach you the basics and advanced concepts of business management. It also allows you to specialise in finance and learn the necessary subjects for this role. Due to these reasons, the best way to pursue this role is by getting an MBA.
Moreover, many companies mandatorily require their candidates to have an MBA because of this role’s unique nature. So, having an MBA would ensure that you are eligible for an opening for a CFO.
At upGrad, we offer the MBA in Digital Finance and Banking program with OP Jindal Global University. It’s an online course that lasts for 24 months and teaches you the latest subjects in finance, including but not limited to:
- Artificial Intelligence in Business
- Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
- Managing Fintech Ecosystems
- Financial Management and Valuation
- Design Thinking and Leadership
- Digital Fraud and Risk Analysis
With such skills and expertise, you can easily manage the responsibilities of being a CFO. Plus, you will learn how to formulate a robust business plan and run a company using a business simulation tool.
The program is designed specifically for working professionals, business owners, and entrepreneurs who want to work in top companies. You only need to have a bachelor’s degree in science, business administration, engineering, commerce, or mathematics with passing marks and pass the Jindal Management Aptitude Test (JMAT) if you haven’t given particular entrance exams.
During the course, you will receive dedicated guidance from industry mentors, teaching assistants and graders. You will also get one-on-one feedback on all your submissions, which would help you learn new concepts faster and start your career effectively.
To help you prepare for senior roles such as CFO, the program features a capstone project. Through the capstone project, you will receive the first-hand experience of how the different sections of a business work together, how you can see and envision the bigger picture for an organisation. This project will serve as a badge of your business expertise.
The program also provides dedicated resume feedback where you get personalised inputs on your resume content and structure. A professionally curated resume will make it much easier for you to advance your career and get the roles you pursue. Moreover, the program offers interview preparation through one-on-one mock interviews conducted by industry experts.
By now, we hope this article provided you with a sense of direction on how to become a CFO of a reputed organisation and how an MBA degree can help your pursuit. With an MBA degree, you’ll have access to a plethora of employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
So, what are you waiting for? Enrol for an MBA program today!
What makes a great CFO?
For a chief financial officer (CFO) to be successful, a diverse set of skills are required. Great CFOs need to have a passion for systems and processes. They need to constantly churn out ideas that will keep their organisation ahead of the curve. Besides this, they need to identify key metrics and communicate the same to the team. This plays a major role in company decision-making and strategy building. Lastly, a great CEO should obsess over financial risk and efficiency. They are the ones who need to vigilantly manage cash balance and cash flows.
What are some of the career options one can explore with a finance degree?
Whether you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in finance, there are a vast number of opportunities you can pursue. Some of them include commercial banking, financial planning, investment banking, public accounting, insurance agent, venture capitalist, fund manager, real estate agent, chief financial officer, and funds manager. Most of these roles require a candidate to have great accounting, management and analytic capabilities.
Which are some of the analytical tools a CFO must know?
A contemporary CFO needs to have a combination of hard and soft skills. They must be proficient in areas including data analysis, planning and structuring, and risk management. Some of the other tools a CFO must know include SaaS ERPs and function-specific applications, blockchain technology, analytics and data science for decision making, task automation tools, and other basic data security tools that will help in managing cybersecurity risks. In the post-pandemic world, technology has changed the role of a CFO and thus knowing important tools will help them add value to the growth of an organisation.