Overview

A CFO is responsible for the strategic planning of a company’s financial growth and development and for assessing and managing financial risks.

As a CFO, you will assist in formulating the future direction of your company, develop strategies, lead a team to ensure the successful implementation of those strategies, contribute to the wider senior leadership team and develop performance measures that monitor success.

This is not usually an entry level position and requires a certain level of qualification and expertise, although exceptions may be made for those with a Master’s Degree in Accounting or Business Administration.

If you do not have a Master’s, then you are going to have to work your way up the ladder. CFO positions are usually advertised with an essential requirement of 10+ years’ equivalent business experience, demonstrating a steady progression.

Your resume will need to scream ‘Success!’ – you need to demonstrate achievements at every turn; risks mitigated with clear outcomes, financial results delivered, promotions, increased profit margins and clear examples of project management.

In terms of job prospects, it is a growing trend. More large companies are choosing to have an CFO on board because it eases the burden on a CEO and allows for a natural division of workload and opportunities for collaboration. This is a career choice for the ambitious and the determined – the faint of heart need not apply.

Pay

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for financial managers including CFOs is around  $117,000 per year. Salary aggregator pay scale.com puts the annual median salary for CFOs a little higher at just over $126,000 per year.

Also, in addition to annual salaries, CFOs enjoy healthy profit sharing, commission, and bonus remuneration packages higher than many other industries. Incentivization is a big part of not only attracting but also retaining skilled financial managers, and thus is very common in many of today’s big financial institutions.

For those who have just recently advanced to the position of chief financial officer, that is those holding the title with for under five years, you can expect to make anywhere between $80,000 and $100,000 annually.

As professionals advanced through their financial management careers, their salaries increased accordingly, with mid-level career professionals making closer to $120,000 per year, experienced CFOs making between $120,000 and $140,000 per year. In late career, that is those with more than 20 years of experience, CFOs make well north of $150,000 per year.

The CFO position has a relatively equal level of pay across the nation while many other professions have larger pay variance depending on the location.

For example, pay is similar whether in New York City, or Fargo, North Dakota. However, given the importance of the CFO position, compensation across the country, from New York, to Chicago, Minneapolis, and Dallas, averages remain similar. This is good news for those who do not like to relocate.

Financial Managers Salary Statistics

2016 Median Pay$117,990 per year
$56.73 per hour
Typical Entry-Level EducationBachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation Required?Yes, often, 5+ years
On-the-job TrainingNo
Number of Jobs, 2014-2024555,900
Job Outlook, 2014-2024+7%
Employment Change, 2014-2024+37,700
Sources: U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics & Payscale

Industry Forecast

The forecast for financial management positions, including the CFO position, is pretty sunny, with a projected growth rate of 7% from the years 2014 through 2024. This growth rate is similar to the national average for all occupations, which is also near 7%.

Services provided by financial managers include planning, directing, and coordinating investments for a multitude of various institutions, and the need will continue to grow as long as the economy, as a whole, remains healthy and is growing.

Even after the great recession of 2007 and 2008, the United States remains the dominant player in the international financial world, meaning  the economic growth of nations across the developed world will continue to feed the financial industry here in America and stir employment growth, as well.

The post-recession US economy has been growing at a steady pace, and with continued economic growth in developing nations around the world, the US international financial center status continues to expand.

Growing global economies and globalization have contributed to companies accumulating more cash reserves on their balance sheets than ever before. Because of this, they all are seeking experienced financial managers to protect these assets and invest them to position the company to grow well into the future, as well.

As the global economy continues to grow, so will the demand for knowledgeable financial managers who are in integral part of strategic cash management for financial institutions all around the world.

One area where financial management positions are shrinking is in the depository credit intermediation industry, for the banking and savings industry. This type of banking is largely revolving around savings and consumer checking accounts, and has been shrinking in size over the years as more and more people turn to online banking to conduct their transactions causing a large number of smaller regional bank branches to close.

As bank branch closings limit the consumer finance director’s growth, experienced financial managers will still be able to seamlessly transition into other financial institutions that require their skills and knowledge.

The financial industry is very much driving on an international level, and thus in understanding of international finance and complex financial products it is useful in transitioning to a higher paying financial management position.

Types of CFOs

Today, CFOs no longer just manage the core financial reporting of companies. Instead, CFOs are looking to play a much more influential role in directing corporate portfolio management and company capital allocation. Additionally, CFOs now often take on PR related roles  by acting as the voice of the company to investors and the media, as well as to board members, and other managers within the organization.

As the roles of the CFO have increased, so have the number of professionals who specialize in different aspects of financial management. According to McKinsey.com, the increased scope of responsibility for CFOs has spurred the major specialist type CFOs with slightly unique focuses within the industry.

Finance Specialists

The first type of CFO is the finance expert. These are typically promoted from within the organization, and have years of experience in multiple facets of financial management including controlling, auditing, planning, and analysis. The finance expert has a solid understanding of the inner workings of the company as well as the regulations for the industry in which they operate.

This type of candidate may not be suited for the role of company PR, but their strong finance function knowledge perfectly equips them to help direct companies whose management teams may otherwise lack someone with a firm understanding of the fundamentals of finance within their industry

Generalists

The second type of CFO is the generalist. This type of manager has broad experience, including operations, strategy, marketing, and of course, financial planning. This CFO was growing in numbers in recent years as companies seek financial managers with well-developed communication skills in addition to fundamental financial technical expertise.

Given the broad experience in companies dealing with all levels of management, these CFOs are often groomed to become future CEOs of companies.

Efficiency Focused

A third type of CFO is a performance driven CFO. These individuals build their resumes on transforming companies with a focus on cost management and efficiency and focus on helping companies achieve aggressive growth rates and cost targets. The performance CFO often works internationally, and has strong analytical backgrounds, which are required in order to help them better allocate resources in ways that will fuel further growth for the company they have been hired to manage.

Growth & Expansion Focused

The fourth type of CFO is often referred to as the “growth focused CFO”. These managers are often heard of outside of the company. These CFOs often work in diverse industries like tech, where they are required to be able to quickly adapt and allocate resources and develop creative ways to help mold portfolios in highly volatile innovation industries.

Again, these are just for the most common type of financial managers grouped into different categories based on the expectations and their specific functions within companies.

At the end of the day, the CFO is no longer only concerned with the finances of the company, but also has an invested stake in the management of the company, including everything from R&D to marketing, Because he or she knows that a company’s future is dependent not just on its balance sheets, but how it operates on all levels across the board.

Example Resume Download

Below is the example of a professionally written chief financial officer resume. It is interchangeable with senior-level financial management positions, as well. You can use this as reference when writing your own, or you can print it out and send it to a resume writing service to have them model your own resume.

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How To Write Your Own

Writing a senior level resume, such as a financial management resume, is a bit different from writing a resume for an entry or a mid-level professional.

Not only will the responsibilities vary greatly, but the actual formatting of the resume will be different, as well. For example, a CFO resume probably wo not have a professional statement, as these are found on more entry-level resumes.

Summary Over Objective

Instead, you want to use a qualification summary, or summary of achievements, where you list five of your chief achievements through the course of your career. This is not just a list of what you have done in the past, but a list of achievements that other companies will desire to have an enacted within their own organizations.

The summary section of the top of your resume is your first impression, so give it a good amount of time, including points that are not generic, are unique to yourself, and are hard-to-find among other financial managers.

In the body of your resume, you want to numerically quantify all the achievements in dollar and percentage terms whenever possible. This includes quantifying the volume of budgets managed, growth figures, and cost savings. Numbers have a way of jumping off the page, and the more often they are included, the better for capturing holding the reader’s eye.

With the the list of duties expected of CFOs today, you will want to not only focus on your financial aptitude, but also other soft skill sets that are required to not just manage a company’s finances, but also to manage a company’s human capital and direct institution-wide growth.

The CFO is also a manager, so you may also want to exhibit your ability to manage existing teams and attract talents to help achieve company objectives and growth targets. This means emphasizing your ability to influence key decision-makers within an organization, as well as to build bridges between other leaders within your industry.

Essentially, you are not just managing the company’s finances, but you are also helping to steer the ship, and represent publicly as a well- rounded leader, not just a financial analyst.

Talk the Industry Talk

Do not fear using industry jargon and  acronyms, since your resume is of a higher experience level. The reader will perfectly understand abbreviations like ROI, DSO, and the like. Demonstrating a full understanding of industry terminology is critical for communicating your experience level and readiness for that position being applied for.

Finally, as financial analysts, CFOs have a tendency to focus on the numbers and data, and can sometimes forget the human aspect in selling oneself on a resume.

Try to be a little creative; include experiences that you may have only acquired through unique means, such as working with a foreign institution, or steering company through a period of crisis. Try to add a little character to your resume; this makes you more memorable than if you just include numbers and figures.

Since this is an executive level position, the expectations and demands for quality in terms resume writing are much higher than for other, more entry level positions in other industries. For this reason, if you are not comfortable writing your financial management resume yourself, it may be worth investing in a well-vetted resume writing service to do it for you.

Sample Bullet Points

The large collection of financial management-related bullet points will provide inspiration when writing your own resume. Obviously, in order to stand out, you will want to include your own more creative experience points. However, it does not hurt to use these as a reference point to help remind you of various skills deemed desirable for such positions.

Sample CFO Bullet Points

Task
Direct or coordinate an organization's financial or budget activities to fund operations, maximize investments, or increase efficiency.
Appoint department heads or managers and assign or delegate responsibilities to them.
Analyze operations to evaluate performance of a company or its staff in meeting objectives or to determine areas of potential cost reduction, program improvement, or policy change.
Direct, plan, or implement policies, objectives, or activities of organizations or businesses to ensure continuing operations, to maximize returns on investments, or to increase productivity.
Prepare budgets for approval, including those for funding or implementation of programs.
Confer with board members, organization officials, or staff members to discuss issues, coordinate activities, or resolve problems.
Implement corrective action plans to solve organizational or departmental problems.
Direct human resources activities, including the approval of human resource plans or activities, the selection of directors or other high-level staff, or establishment or organization of major departments.
Establish departmental responsibilities and coordinate functions among departments and sites.
Preside over or serve on boards of directors, management committees, or other governing boards.
Negotiate or approve contracts or agreements with suppliers, distributors, federal or state agencies, or other organizational entities.
Coordinate the development or implementation of budgetary control systems, recordkeeping systems, or other administrative control processes.
Review reports submitted by staff members to recommend approval or to suggest changes.
Deliver speeches, write articles, or present information at meetings or conventions to promote services, exchange ideas, or accomplish objectives.
Interpret and explain policies, rules, regulations, or laws to organizations, government or corporate officials, or individuals.
Prepare or present reports concerning activities, expenses, budgets, government statutes or rulings, or other items affecting businesses or program services.
Review and analyze legislation, laws, or public policy and recommend changes to promote or support interests of the general population or special groups.
Administer programs for selection of sites, construction of buildings, or provision of equipment or supplies.
Direct or conduct studies or research on issues affecting areas of responsibility.
Direct or coordinate activities of businesses or departments concerned with production, pricing, sales, or distribution of products.
Make presentations to legislative or other government committees regarding policies, programs, or budgets.
Refer major policy matters to elected representatives for final decisions.
Direct or coordinate activities of businesses involved with buying or selling investment products or financial services.
Conduct or direct investigations or hearings to resolve complaints or violations of laws or testify at such hearings.
Direct non-merchandising departments, such as advertising, purchasing, credit, or accounting.
Prepare bylaws approved by elected officials and ensure that bylaws are enforced.
Serve as liaisons between organizations, shareholders, and outside organizations.
Attend and participate in meetings of municipal councils or council committees.
Represent organizations or promote their objectives at official functions or delegate representatives to do so.
Organize or approve promotional campaigns.
Nominate citizens to boards or commissions.

Additional Skills & Certifications

Given the high experience level of disposition, there is a wide variety of additional skills and certifications that can be included on a CFO resume.

A few of the most commonly found official certifications for senior level financial managers include, but are not limited to:

  • Certified public accountant license, obtained from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA)
  • Master’s degree in business administration, obtained from accredited higher educational institutions as well as online programs.
  • Chartered financial analyst certification, obtained from the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute (CFA)
  • Certified management accountants certification, obtained from the Association of Accountants and Financial Professionals in Business (AAFPB) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)
  • Chartered global management accountant financial certification, obtain from either the AICPA or the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)
  • Certified information systems auditor certification, obtained by the Information Systems Audit Control Association (ISACA)
  • Certified internal auditor designation, update from the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA)

It is not necessary to have all these certifications, but having one or two relevant to the function or industry shows that you are seeking to grow. It is definitely worth the $1,000-$3,000 investment to become officially certified.

,Additionally, you want to include a skill set pertinent to other aspects of company management, as mentioned above, since CFOs no longer only deal with finance, but also need to be able to make critical decisions in regards to company direction.

Finally, including people skills is definitely advantageous in today’s CFO market, as leaders are expected to not only be able to manage and negotiate with employees, but also work with board members, directors, investors, and even the media, if required.

Useful Skills to Include

Below are a few more highly desirable to consider including on your resume in addition to the above-mentioned certifications.

Useful CFO Skills

SkillSkill Description
Judgment and Decision MakingConsidering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
SpeakingTalking to others to convey information effectively.
Critical ThinkingUsing logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Complex Problem SolvingIdentifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Social PerceptivenessBeing aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
CoordinationAdjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Management of Personnel ResourcesMotivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
Reading ComprehensionUnderstanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Active ListeningGiving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
MonitoringMonitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
PersuasionPersuading others to change their minds or behavior.
NegotiationBringing others together and trying to reconcile differences.
Systems AnalysisDetermining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
Systems EvaluationIdentifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
Management of Financial ResourcesDetermining how money will be spent to get the work done, and accounting for these expenditures.
WritingCommunicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
Active LearningUnderstanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Time ManagementManaging one's own time and the time of others.
Management of Material ResourcesObtaining and seeing to the appropriate use of equipment, facilities, and materials needed to do certain work.
MathematicsUsing mathematics to solve problems.
Learning StrategiesSelecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
InstructingTeaching others how to do something.
Service OrientationActively looking for ways to help people.
Operations AnalysisAnalyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
ScienceUsing scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
Operation MonitoringWatching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Technology DesignGenerating or adapting equipment and technology to serve user needs.
Operation and ControlControlling operations of equipment or systems.
Quality Control AnalysisConducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
ProgrammingWriting computer programs for various purposes.
Equipment SelectionDetermining the kind of tools and equipment needed to do a job.
InstallationInstalling equipment, machines, wiring, or programs to meet specifications.
Equipment MaintenancePerforming routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
TroubleshootingDetermining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
RepairingRepairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

Additional Resources

Day in the Life of Pepsi Co’s Chief Financial Officer