Become a CFO

Anyone aspiring to become a CFO must understand that the role demands both academic and work experience. These requisites are justified given that the CFO is one of the primary decision makers of any company; his or her policies impact the entire organization across the board, and the future of the company at large.

 It’s no surprise that companies often prefer to hire people with an array of skill sets and diversified experience in addition to more clinical expertise in dealing with issues of accounting and finance.

It takes time to become eligible for the position of chief financial officer. However, the necessary career track equips a candidate with the relevant set of skills and qualifications to evolve into such a role.

Explore the five steps to aspiring to a CFO position, below:

Complete Your Education

As a student, the first and the most obvious step is to complete a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, or a comparable field of study. Moreover, obtaining CFA or CPA certifications are highly recommended as CFOs are expected to be subject matter experts.

While a master’s degree is not a requirement, possessing a degree in accounting, finance, or economics can certainly make you a top choice among a field of competitive applicants.

A business administration degree or a degree in MR management can further prepare an individual for a CFO role, exposing them to such C-suite responsibilities as talent acquisition initiatives, compensation and benefits, etc.

Master Technical Skills

CFOs are expected to be experts in all processes related to a company’s finances. As a financial officer is one of the major decision makers, he or she bears the responsibility of ensuring that all decisions are financially sound. Aspirants must master the technical skills required to decipher, execute and judge financial decisions.

Employers and stakeholders expect CFOs to be fintech experts, boasting additional skills in forecasting, data mining, data visualization, and financial modeling. Learning how to use the technology associated with these capabilities and developing an in-depth knowledge of the processes is another important step in the path towards becoming a CFO.

Take on Job Roles to Expand Your Skillset

Given that the CFO’s decisions impact IT, human resources, investor relations, marketing, customer service, and other operations in the organization, taking on job roles that expose you to other areas is a critical part of the learning process. Taking on job roles within the same industry can render you a more suitable fit for the financial leadership roles. This type of preparation may help you in developing benefits plans and open enrollment communication and making sound decisions for a company.

Build Leadership and Communication Skills

Financial leaders are often portrayed as second in command to the CEO. Strong leadership abilities and capacity for resolving conflicts or negotiating legalities related to insubordination at work, and the ability to render discussion and direction in a boardroom are all critical prerequisites of a CFO. An individual’s experiences in managerial positions provide ample opportunities to develop leadership qualities and management skills in these arenas.

Effective and strong communication is a crucial soft skill to develop for any C-suite position. Offer to give presentations when the opportunity presents itself, practice active listening, observe your tone and body language, and be concise and precise in communication.

Be on the Lookout for CFO Positions

After completing your academic degrees, seek to obtain practical, multi-faceted business experience. During that time, it is incumbent to master the crucial skills outlined above. Seek out companies and leadership opportunities that make your experience and capabilities a match to the aspirations of the organization you join. Leverage job posting websites and social platforms for this purpose. Your network may also refer relevant opportunities to you; actively apply for challenging positions to hone your financial experience in practice.


Today, a CFO’s responsibilities go far beyond the financial planning of a company; they are expected to have knowledge and skills that qualify them to be a quality leader as well. For that reason alone, the office of the CFO is a highly demanding and rewarding role.  Having a clear objective from the start and committing to the right path will significantly increase your chances of becoming a CFO over the long term.

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