Like Controllers, many CFO positions are not as clear cut as you might think. Some CFO’s manage HR or I.T. Others operate strictly within the arena of financial matters, short term and long term financing and Treasury. For many, the progression from Controller to CFO seems clearly a natural one. But is it? Sometimes I think we may wonder what skill set it takes to be the Chief Financial Officer of any company. And, I have observed a number of them from my position as Controller. Most CFO’s don’t get involved in the transactional side of the business. You don’t see them writing up Journal Entries or getting ‘into the weeds’ of accounting. Leaving all that behind is not everyone’s cup of tea. Yes, the title and even the salary level is tempting. So is the open door to senior management. But before you attempt the jump, ask yourself this:
- Do I have a strong background in finance?
- Did I spend time working in public accounting?
- Am I a CPA?
- Can I converse with senior management about complex financial transactions?
- Do I understand the requirements of good leadership?
- Am I willing to invest time becoming educated in all aspects of the position?
- Can I put together a financial model in Excel?
- Am I familiar with securing financing through various debt instruments?
- Do I have strong analytical skills, for instance the ability to review financial statements and comment on them?
There are many other questions you might ask yourself as you aspire to become a CFO. And, if you can’t answer yes to many of these questions, find a way to solve that problem.