What Does It Take To Become a Chief Financial Officer?

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A CFO, or chief financial officer, is responsible for managing a company’s financial actions. Their duties include financial planning, tracking cash flow, and analyzing the business’ strengths and weaknesses.

Besides that, a CFO also proposes corrective actions to enhance the financial capability and stability of a corporation.

With that said, being a chief financial officer takes a range of skills beyond the ABCs of accounting.

To get this type of job, here are some things that you should take note of along with your loyalty and hard work.

Required Education

A CFO works side-by-side with the Chief Executive Officer or CEO of any organization. Since this position is present in different types of industries, the education requirements may vary widely.

As such, a bachelor’s degree is the most common level of education required to become a CFO, and of course, with an ample amount of work experience.

Moreover, here are the following courses and advance degrees that can increase your chance of becoming a chief financial officer:

Bachelor’s Degree

To become a CFO, you should obtain a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance-related courses to know the base knowledge required for this position.

One of the most popular financial undergraduate degrees is a Bachelor of Business Science (BBusSc) in Finance and Accounting.

Online Financial Courses

The CFO has a lot of essential tasks to do to keep the company going.

For that reason, they must know a little about many things, including modern accounting tools and even the company’s operation.

There are available online courses that can help you keep up with the fast-paced world of business.

You can make one step closer to becoming a chief financial officer by studying these online courses:

  • Import and Export Management
  • Compliance Management
  • Business Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Strategic Management


Leadership responsibilities are entangled in the role of CFO.

That said, taking up a Master of Business Administration or MBA is a great way to prepare yourself and boost your expertise for this executive position.

On top of that, earning an MBA can enhance your operational and business understanding, which may help you fulfill your responsibilities as a chief financial officer of any organization.

Key Responsibilities of a CFO

As a CFO, your opinion is highly needed when it comes to financial decision making within a company.

You’ll be in charge of managing and reviewing every department’s works, which involves purchasing, pricing, managing debts, and paying accountabilities.

Moreover, the daily tasks of a chief financial officer include the following:

  • Recording company-wide transactions
  • Managing company’s financials
  • Reporting expenditures
  • Ensuring financial compliance management
  • Auditing internal transactions

On top of that, here are the key responsibilities of a chief financial officer throughout their duty:

  • Optimizing business operations and profitability.
  • Understanding and applying vital financial tools and frameworks in the modern business environment.
  • Creating strategic plans and informing decisions with financial insights.
  • Developing financial innovations that can boost the company’s future.

When getting a higher position in a company, such as CFO, you’ll also get bigger responsibilities.

Thus, if you have the knowledge, educational qualifications, and essential experiences, you’ll have what it takes to be the right hand of the CEO in growing the company’s sales and profitability.

Gain Broad Financial Experience

As a chief financial officer, you must ensure that the decisions of the CEO and board of directors are financially established.

Thus, you’ll need a firm understanding of the fundamentals of budgeting, compliance, analysis, financial risk management, and other accounting standards.

To obtain a firm grasp of the business and operational sides of management, you must have a broad financial experience before handling the vast responsibilities carried by the CFO.

Here are some of the positions that will lead you to become a chief financial officer:

  • Operations manager
  • Finance Manager
  • Business Manager
  • General Manager
  • Finance Director
  • Director of Operations
  • Director of Administration

Having experiences with these roles will make it easier for you to handle this senior executive position.

Furthermore, gaining broad financial experiences also means earning knowledge about people management, resource management, and the right balance of theoretical knowledge, technical expertise, and leadership.

Qualities of a Chief Financial Officer

A chief financial officer is the agent of focused investment, asking the right questions to the management, and giving the right insights so that they understand how to say yes and when to say no.

Individuals with this position are responsible for developing revenue streams and creating effective business strategies to enhance overall operations.

If you want this type of role, here are some of the qualities you must possess to do your responsibilities and provide excellent CFO services:

Must Have a Positive Outlook

There’s a parcel of pressure on the hands of a CFO that can be difficult to handle.

However, one must have a positive outlook to overcome possible problems and shortcomings concerning operations and financial management.

Capacity to Understand and Resolve Issues

A great CFO looks for solutions every time. Thus, they should have the ability to understand issues and come up with a resolution that can influence the long run of the company.

Moreover, a chief financial officer must be equipped with knowledge beyond numbers to develop strategies that will guarantee the company’s development and success.

Communication Skills

If you start your journey as a CFO, you must have excellent communication skills.

Through that, you will be able to communicate with your team and relay the company’s financial status to the CEO and stakeholders.


A CFO should possess authority and have the qualities of an effective leader to supervise the company’s monetary operations successfully.

These qualities include enthusiastic insights, integrity, self-awareness, learning agility, and social aptitudes.


Being a chief financial officer of an organization is one great opportunity. However, the path you’ll take towards this role isn’t easy

As such, you should actively manage your career to achieve this pinnacle of achievement.

Ultimately, while education and relevant qualifications are essential in becoming a CFO, your professional track record and working experiences are the most reliable indicators for the potential of becoming one.

About the author

AP Community

AP Community

Accounting Path community writers are passionate financial & businesses thought leaders eager to share their experience & ideas. Please note, community articles may contain links to products or services which we do not formally endorse and/or for which we may receive compensation.