Another Perspective on CFO Prerequisites

BY KENNETH FICK, CPA/ABV

CFO 101: Five Prerequisites” (Sept. 09, page 38) was a great article! In fact I am going to redo my resume to specifically identify these skills in my background.

 

I think you hit the nail on the head in regards to what skills a CFO needs but find that many CEOs still look for the auditor/ controller skill set first with all other skills placed in a distant second. This may primarily be due to size. As a company grows, the role of any senior financial officer must change to accommodate the needs of the organization.

 

In general, the CFO is responsible for the past, present and future financial position of the company. Due to the complexity involved in the development and accurate presentation of financial reports, larger organizations typically separate the controllership function into a stand-alone position reporting to the CFO. The difference in the CFO and controllership role is in the level of involvement. The controller’s main responsibilities are creating financial reports and managing the nuts and bolts of obtaining, explaining and aggregating information, while the CFO would be responsible for the review of any financial report prior to its release and the examination and analysis of other information to identify trends, opportunities and risks, both internally and externally.

 

All of the above must be accomplished in a business environment that responds in hours and sometimes minutes to market changes, rumors, political influences, consumer preferences, and more. In short, on the continuum from bookkeeper to financial guru, a CFO’s duties and requisite responsibilities are linear in proportion to a company’s size and complexity. Therefore, although your article identifies great prerequisites for the CFO position, I do not think they are all on the same plane of priority when a CEO is looking for a new CFO. Many CEOs may still consider the nuts-and-bolts job duties of the controllership function as the CFO’s primary responsibility, with your identified prerequisites secondary.

 

Kenneth Fick, CPA/ABV

Washington, D.C.

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