The Chief Financial Officer is generally the most sought-after job title to hold in anyone’s Finance career. It is one of the most elite positions in any company, and usually commands a large salary because of this. But there are a number of key skills required to make the move from finance manager to CFO.
So, how do you successfully make the move from finance manager to Chief FO?
What Is A CFO
A CFO is an executive-level financial professional who occupies a seat of an organisation. In most cases, there is only one c-suite professional who sits above them – and that’s the CEO. Essentially, the requirements of a CFO are to ensure that the CEO and the rest of the board’s decisions are financially sound, both with regard to regulatory compliance and available resources.
Finance Manager To CFO
Moving from finance manager to CFO is one of the most natural paths for the position, with the financial expertise and managerial experience granting you a solid foundation to grow from. However, to truly rise through the ranks, you’ll need to remould yourself from ‘manager’ to ‘leader’.
A successful CFO has to be able to inspire and lead others. CFOs are no longer looking at one specific element; instead, they need to take a holistic view of the entire business. This means not only does a CFO need to demonstrate an aptitude for the company aspirations, they must get the buy-in from the rest of their team to facilitate this. The following are a few skills and experiences finance managers can begin working on right now to increase their chances of rising through the ranks.
How To Be A Successful CFO
Expand Your Operational Experience
With CFO’s required to frequently meet with the C-suite board and collaborate with managers, an in-depth knowledge of your company is critical on the career path. Aspirant finance managers should take the time now to gain a broader understanding of the company and the operational sides of an organisation.
Be A Futurist
From a numbers perspective, in a finance manager role, you’re often dealing with historical information, such as producing statutory accounts, financial reports, and so on. At CFO level, you need to be looking forward and have a sense of what’s around the corner. You also need to have an industry-wide focus, looking at competitors and other external factors to get an indication of what could impact the future of the company. This is especially relevant for a CFO in FinTech, with the market being so fast moving that the CFO must be able to predict future trends and make strategic decisions based off of them.
Perfect Your Communication Of The Numbers
If you’re holding a finance manager position, you already understand the numbers. However, to have a firm grip on the ladder to CFO, you’ll need to take this one step further. As CFO, your audience extends to potentially all stakeholders in the company, from sales directors, to operations managers, and so on. Naturally, they will not be as financially literate as you, and this puts the onus on you to not only understand the numbers, but to interpret them in a way which people without a finance background can comprehend.
As well as excellently communicating the numbers internally, as a CFO, you’ll need the ability to do the same with an external audience. These will be people who have taken an interest in your company, such as analysts, shareholders and investors, who again, will need to hear from a CFO who can craft and communicate their financial strategy in a way which resonates with everyone.
Widen Your Customer Service Experience
You need to be able to build and nurture relationships with people at all levels of the organisation, both within and outside the financial department. But it doesn’t stop there. Not only as CFO will you be accountable to the board regarding the financial status of the company, you’ll also interact with investors, serving as a bridge between what they want to see from the organisation and the board. Such corporate communications will be frequent, as investors are key stakeholders of the company.
Polish Up Your Presentation Skills
When moving from a finance manager to a CFO position, arguably one of the most important skills to hone in on are your presentation skills. This is especially true for CFOs who work in larger organisations and are often thrown into the spotlight to present for interested parties external from the company. You may have bountiful financial and technical knowledge, but if you’re unable to engage an audience and present yourself coherently, you’ll struggle to engross people with what you have to say and what your company has to offer.
At Storm2, we are specialists in connecting professional CFO candidates with successful FinTech start-ups and scale ups across the globe. If you have a senior level vacancy you’re looking to fill, get in touch. Alternatively, you can read more about our Finance function, here.