How To Become A CFO

how to become a CFO chief financial officer

Many people want to be the chief financial officer (CFO). Accomplished CFO, David Geithner, says that you need to improve yourself if you want to land this job. Besides doing your job as an accountant and figuring out finances, you also need to develop other skills. For instance, you need to see the big picture and understand all the aspects of your company. You need to be familiar with public relations, distribution channels, and all other aspects. In other words, you need to expand beyond the world of accounting. Here are some tips for how you can do that. 

Take Yourself to the Top

If you’re actively seeking a position as a CFO, you need to move beyond the world of finances and work your way to the top. Start this hard work by going to various job posting sites and looking at the ads for CFO positions. Check out the required and preferred skills and experience. See this as the marketplace telling you what skills and experience you need to work on. Then, you can work on developing yourself and molding your career to fit with the expectations you must meet. 

Develop Your Breadth of Vision

Most financial executives will agree that breadth of vision is one of the most crucial characteristics of a CFO. In other words, you need to have broad experience in many areas, rather than just being a certified public accountant. For instance, they want to see your experience dealing with many financial positions and serving on financial boards. This is because a CFO will have a say in all areas of business. Therefore, you need to understand the ins and outs of assets, goods, property agreements, negotiations, mergers, acquisitions, pensions, and benefits. 

Practice Seeing the Big Picture

Although the primary skills people want to see in potential CFOs are finance and technology, it doesn’t just stop there. They are also looking for someone who has experience making business deals and mega transactions while seeing the big picture. Someone who can see the big picture and understand how small actions affect the entire company will save money and bring in more revenue. In other words, you need to know what is going to have the biggest impact on your company so you can work with other executives to decide on the best deals. 

Build Your Resume

If you wonder what type of experience potential employers want to see on your resume, the answer is a variety. Rather than highlighting your experience with finances, spend time highlighting each position you have held and explaining your decision-making tasks at each post. Highlight any experience you have with financial markets, venture capital, accounting, and leveraged balance sheets. Emphasize any positions where you have had to collaborate with others to get the job done. This shows that you have the skills necessary to work with your colleagues and handle the financial aspect of things in a big-picture setting. Also, don’t be afraid to put extra emphasis on your experience as a technical accountant. Many employers are actively searching for accounting skills on a CFO’s resume. 

Ask For What You Want

In the meantime, if you feel like you lack experience in a particular area, ask for tasks that can give you what you need. If you ask your boss for more work in a specific area, they may be able to put you on a project that gives you more experience. Also, be sure to spend time working on group projects away from your desk. Use this time to build your credibility. Get your name out in the company and show that they can trust your judgment. Over time, you will become known as someone who can work in various areas and be a strong leader and team player. 

Prepare When Applying for the Position

When you go for your first interview, you need to be prepared. Ensure you do research on the company, identify its needs, and determine how you can fill those gaps. Never go into an interview unprepared. You need to understand the company’s 10Ks and those from its main competitors for the bare minimum. If you want to be extra prepared, take the time to learn more about the company’s credit reports and those of its main competitors. Also, it’s a good idea to speak with current and former employees to get a feel for what is important at a company and get some information that is not freely available online. 

Grow As A CFO

Anyone seeking to become a CFO must think beyond accounting and work on boosting their other qualities. This includes a variety of skills that can help you work with others to lead a company. Be sure to focus on promoting yourself and working hard so you can get what you want. When you do get an interview, be sure to do proper research ahead of time so you can wow your potential employers.