Chief Financial OfficerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

The role of chief financial officer (CFO) comes with many responsibilities, with the most important typically being management of a company’s financial strategy, tactics, and overall health. Some of the ways they do this are by accomplishing tasks like brainstorming plans to increase company profit, discovering investment opportunities, managing mergers and acquisitions, helping the CEO develop financial plans, and managing account procedures. Of course, a CFO is an incredibly busy individual and a C-level position, so only the most qualified of candidates will be selected. If you are looking to make the move to a chief financial officer, you should have years of prior experience managing large accounts and directing finances for an organization.

Sample job description #1

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO), reporting to the CEO, is an integral member of the executive leadership team. The CFO will provide insightful and trusted counsel to the CEO, executive team and the Board on both financial and broad-based business matters. The CFO will provide hands-on, metrics-driven financial leadership to help accelerate growth and profitability. The CFO will lead and evolve the financial management capabilities of the company, enabling ABC Company to achieve its purpose and strategic plan. The CFO will lead a diverse set of functions including financial planning & analysis, accounting, treasury, tax and legal. The CFO will be a hands-on leader and operator who will build a strong and lean team of internal and external resources to deliver on the responsibilities of the group.

Essential job functions

  1. Build effective finance organization: Build a fit-for-purpose finance workforce across all finance functions. Determine optimal in-source/out-source mix for all finance functions as well as legal services. Manage all out-source vendor relationships for optimal quality/service/cost mix. Recruit, motivate, and mentor a lean in-house team that will scale with the organization. Build a trusting, productive partnership with all other functions in the company. Ensure the methods and processes used in financial transactions align with the company’s need for data used in decision making.
  2. Financial planning & analysis (FP&A): Enhancing the FP&A capabilities in the company are critical for the executive team, and the CFO will play a hands-on role. The CFO will have shared responsibility for annual and 3-year goals for revenue growth and earnings. The CFO will oversee the annual operating plan and budget process and translate that plan into the management operating system for the company. The CFO will brief the executive team on the short-term and long-term financial implications of the ongoing and upcoming business activities, including new product development. Influence and recommend improvements across the organization that get deployed to drive value creation.
  3. Cost accounting and margin management: Shared ownership for margins at aggregate company level. Continue to enhance the cost accounting system and tools globally to provide all leaders with information and tools that will drive decisions that maximize margins from every perspective.
  4. Capital structure and M&A: Manage capital structure to meet needs of growing business. Drive to reduce cost of capital and own cost of capital targets. Effectively manage financial aspects of ESOP. Partner with CEO on any fundraising activities. Partner with the executive team in exploration of new investment opportunities and provide recommendations on value creation through smart investments.
  5. Cash flow management: Ensure cash flow is appropriate for the organization’s operations. Effectively manage international cash flows. Provide planning guidance on investment plans based on cash flow and liquidity risks.

Education and/or experience

  • Industry experience: Experience in businesses that manufacture a physical product for consumer use is a must, including selling to consumer through retail channels. Ideal experience would include businesses that create products for consumer use in building, home improvement or related areas.
  • Geographic experience: Experience in multi-national operations and sales is a must. Ideal global experience (beyond U.S.) includes Europe, Japan, Australia. This experience should ideally involve building a nascent global business into a material and sustained portion of total company sales.
  • Functional expertise: Has had oversight responsibility for all finance functions within the scope of this role – each for a minimum of 2 years. Deepest experience and demonstrated hands-on expertise must be in financial planning & analysis and cost accounting.
  • Role experience: Has prior experience as the CFO of a company with $100M – $500M in revenue, or in divisional CFO role of a similar sized business together with the required industry and functional experiences outlined above.
  • Technical knowledge: Outstanding knowledge and understanding of GAAP, IFRS, ESOP experience is a plus.
  • Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting or Finance or related field is required. An MBA or related degree is highly desirable.

Other skills and abilities

  • Organizational leadership: An exceptional leader, someone who inspires people to perform at their highest level. Demonstrated success in building and motivating high-performing finance teams. Low need for being an individual contributor.
  • Communication skills: Excellent written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills. Ability to tailor communication style to diverse audiences. A translator who can turn financial performance data of the organization into useful information for the CEO and executive team – and turn the organization’s strategy into financial pictures, goals, and operating guiderails.
  • Relationship builder: Empathetic and engaging individual, who listens well, is responsive, solutions-focused, and results-oriented. Adept at building effective working relationships and collaborative networks. Able to build consensus yet be decisive when needed.
  • Business acumen: This role is very hands-on and intimate knowledge of all aspects of the business and markets served is important. Demonstrated sense of curiosity to dive deep in understanding of the company’s operations.
  • Analytical skills: A strong and broad financial planning and analysis skill set evidenced by the ability to analyze business models, forecast financing needs, raise capital at attractive rates and invest capital strategically
  • Process skills: Ability to develop and implement systems, tools and processes that enable the entire executive team to make sound financial decisions
  • Integrity and trustworthiness: Demonstrated personal integrity, fairness, and credibility necessary to gain the trust and commitment of individuals at all levels of the organization.
  • Values alignment: Passionate about the mission of ABC Company, enthused by the challenges confronting the organization, and dedicated to achieving the mission. Personal values are aligned with organizational values such as assertive collaboration, growth mindset, and customer connection.

Sample job description #2

Summary

Reporting directly to the President, you will be the top financial executive and part of the inner circle with company ownership. You will be expected to have a valuable business voice in profitably running the businesses. Your excellent business acumen will be key to the successful operation of the company and the delivery of profitable field projects across the company.

Duties and responsibilities

  • Oversees and directs accounting, finance, IT and payroll
  • Directs and develops annual budgets, plans and scoreboards
  • Directs Cash monitoring, planning, and reporting
  • Defines short – long-range capital requirements / solutions
  • Maintains necessary business relationships with banks and financial institutions

Requirements

  • You are a corporate controller/division controller, Director of Finance or small company CFO
  • Expert at leading all aspects of accounting, finance, and IT
  • Deep knowledge of the commercial construction industry
  • Excellent analytical skills in offering solutions and choices
  • Skilled at providing business counsel and advice to senior leadership
  • Expertise with Vista Viewpoint software is ideal; Sage 300 or Timberline type programs would be helpful
  • Excellent communication/supervisory skills/TEAM Player and Coach
  • BS degree in Accounting/Finance or related field; MBA a plus

Sample job description #3

Responsibilities

  • Analyze the company’s financial results with respect to profits, trends, costs, and compliance with budgets
  • Track customer cohorts, track sales, reconciliations
  • Issue regular status and ad hoc report to senior management
  • Manage all aspects of accounting operations, oversee all transactions related to the general ledger, receivables, payables, payroll, and financial reporting. Additionally, will also manage audits and liaisons with the company’s accountants and bookkeepers in our international offices
  • Develop and coordinate relationships with financial institutions
  • Assist co-founders in financial planning and results management. Work with other team members to understand revenue and cost drivers and define appropriate reports for tracking
  • Coordinate, prepare, and review monthly, quarterly, and annual reports with internal and external stakeholders
  • Manage all tax planning and compliance with all required federal, state, local, payroll, property, and other applicable taxes
  • Manage cash flow
  • Involvement in Risk and insurance matters ie overseeing business insurance, cyber insurance, employee HR benefits in relation to financial matters

Requirements

  • 10+ years of managerial accounting and financial management experience
  • Experience working in a growing start-up environment (specific experience at a SaaS tech startup is a big plus)
  • Experience working with a global team
  • Experience successfully scaling a finance operation
  • Ability to multi-task in a fast-paced environment with fluctuating priorities and deadlines
  • An independent starter and thinker; the ability to work without direct supervision, and efficiently manage tasks and time

Average salary and compensation

The average base salary for a chief financial officer is $202,000 per year in the United States. While only base salaries are reflected here, commissions and bonuses may greatly increase total compensation. Additionally, salaries will vary based on experience, company size, industry, and geographic market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$200,100$268,000
Los Angeles, California$226,650$305,000
Denver, Colorado$188,850$250,200
Washington, DC$230,100$310,000
Miami, Florida$173,400$248,000
Orlando, Florida$173,400$230,000
Tampa, Florida$175,150$232,250
Atlanta, Georgia$183,700$242,500
Chicago, Illinois$211,200$278,700
Boston, Massachusetts$228,350$308,000
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$182,000$179,300
New York City, New York$240,300$325,000
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$195,750$260,800
Dallas, Texas$190,600$252,850
Houston, Texas$189,750$251,000
Seattle, Washington$219,800$295,300
National Average$171,700$228,000

Sample interview questions

  • What do you consider a chief financial officer’s most difficult decision to make?
  • Tell me about some of your responsibilities at your last job. 
  • What do you know about our company?
  • Why should we hire you for this position?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment throughout your career thus far?
  • How long have you worked in a financial leadership position?
  • What is your leadership style?
  • What experience do you have with directing investment activities?
  • Have you ever overseen an acquisition/merger within a company?
  • What strategies do you use to manage a company’s annual budget?
  • What was your most important contribution to your last employer?
  • Have you ever had to deal with a workplace disagreement? How did you resolve it?
  • Have you ever initiated an organizational change? How did you approach it?
  • What financial strategies do you use to solve business problems?
  • What resources will you need from us to effectively perform your job?
  • How do you measure ROI when making investments?
  • What risk mitigation strategies do you apply?
  • How would you determine the financial value of our company?
  • How has your previous experience prepared you for this role?
  • What is the reason for creating deferred tax liabilities during merger and acquisition deals?
  • What process do you use to determine if an investment would be profitable?

Are you interested in becoming a chief financial officer?

If you are interested in becoming a CFO, we are ready to connect you to one of our headhunters or recruiters to see if you are a perfect fit for one of our available job openings. If a job does not suit you, we will always keep you in mind as new positions open up. We have vast experience connecting executive professionals with some of the most well-known organizations in the country. Your next job or career path as a chief financial officer could be right around the corner. Take a look at our latest job openings and our blog for career advice.

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