Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

A chief financial officer (CFO) is responsible for the management and oversight of an organization. Depending on the current industry conditions and size of the company, CFOs may face significant stress in their careers, as many are required to work up to 80 hours per week. However, executives of smaller companies may work the standard 40 hours per week while opting for lower salaries. Job duties include financial planning, business development, team management, and contract negotiation. Publicly traded companies in the U.S. have at least one CFO to manage their budgets. When the organization is more complex, companies may hire additional financial officers. Job opportunities are offered in a variety of industries, such as agriculture, communications, healthcare, mining, pharmaceuticals, steel, and textiles. CFOs may operate under other job titles, including chief executives, treasurers, controllers, or chief operating officers (COOs).

CFOs are generally required to obtain an MBA or master’s degrees in accounting, finance, or economics. For smaller companies, a bachelor’s degree and sufficient work experience is necessary. Some companies require professional certifications, such as a CPA or CFA. It is important for CFOs to have strong communication and analytical skills. They must be able to quantitatively evaluate large amounts of data and inspect the work of other employees. From a qualitative standpoint, CFOs must demonstrate leadership skills and assume responsibility for an entire organization. It is the CFO’s duty to provide a vision for a company and to promote a sense of community for all employees. Successful CFO usually have a balance of organizational, critical thinking, and leadership abilities.

The average yearly salary of a CFO in 2011 was $173,350, and the median salary was $165,080. The top 10% of CFOs can earn over $237,500 while the bottom 10% earn below $75,000. Salary varies greatly by work experience and educational attainment. On average, executives with a master’s or MBA degree earn 12% more than those with a bachelor’s degree. If an individual is able to demonstrate creativity and sound judgment in the workplace, the salary of a CFO will increase over time. Salaries also vary by geographical region as well. Statistics show that compensation is higher in larger cities. The highest average CFO compensation is reported in the New York and California.

The future job outlook of this profession is changing rapidly. There will be more jobs on the market in upcoming years, both domestically and internationally. With increased globalization, publicly traded companies are in need of professionals with applicable skill sets. Executives who acquire knowledge in their respective industries will face favorable employment prospects. For example, an individual with a degree in healthcare will face considerable opportunities in hospitals, chemical, or biotechnology companies. Textile or fashion companies often employ executives with experience in merchandising. In 2012, companies in over 500 U.S. firms increased their hiring plans for the year. The job growth rate for this profession is expected to exceed 2.5% for the current year. Similarly, Asian and European firms also predict positive growth for CFO careers. In the next five to ten years, many executives may seek employment abroad due to increased pay and global experience.