Interview with a Chief Financial Officer [VIDEO]
AllAccountingCareers.com had the pleasure of speaking with Jeff Beard of Kansas City, about his career path to becoming the CFO of a large advertising agency. Jeff discusses his non-traditional career path and his education that helped to get him there. Jeff received his undergraduate degree from Duke in Engineering and then went back to get his masters at Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, after a few years gaining experience. Learn more about what a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) does and the path Jeff took to get to this point in his career.
Interview questions we asked Jeff in the video below:
- Talk about your education and your path into the accounting field.
- What classes in accounting did you enjoy the most?
- What was the most challenging part of completing your education?
- Describe your career path to the role you are in now as CFO.
- Explain the importance of the CFO to the success of any business.
- What do you enjoy most about your role?
- What has been the most challenging experience of your career?
- For those who are thinking about entering the accounting field, what advice would you give?
- What would you tell current professionals who want to be a CFO?
What is a Chief Financial Officer?
A chief financial officer (CFO) plays a vital role in a company’s overall success. He or she is responsible for advising board members and the company chief executive officer (CEO) about financial transactions that affect the direction of the company. If you choose to seek employment as a chief financial officer, you need to have a strong working knowledge of investment strategies, taxes, finance operations and general business skills.
The top levels of management in your organization depend on the CFO for sound financial advice.
Another key role of the CFO is making sure that all financial reporting for the company is completed and accurate. This is when it pays to have strong accounting career information. People who are successful as a CFO have a strong educational background as well as several years of experience in the field of accounting. Required interpersonal skills include strong leadership ability, strong analytical skills, the ability to communicate professionally and the ability to work well under pressure.
Education Required to Become a CFO
Most people who advance to the level of CFO have at least a master’s degree in accounting, tax and auditing, investing or finance. In addition to the master’s degree and several years of work experience, chief financial officers typically are licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) as well. As you earn your degree, some of the courses you can expect to complete include the following:
- Applied statistics
- Business taxes
- Corporate financial reports
- Federal taxes
- Computer information systems
- Modern accounting issues
- Financial accounting
Career Path to Become a CFO
Even with an advanced degree, you are not likely to become a CFO early on in your career. It usually entails up to 10 years of increasingly responsible managerial positions before you can be considered a viable CFO candidate. Some of the job titles that you may hold before becoming a CFO include senior accountant, vice president of finance and president of finance. Of course, this accounting career information is not set in stone. You may have entirely different career options at your place of employment.
Accounting Salary and Career Outlook for Chief Financial Officers
With an average accounting salary of $105,000 in 2010, planning your career path to eventually reach the level of CFO is a wise thing to do. The salary range can vary considerably depending on your education, experience and the size of the company that hires you. One thing to keep in mind as you work towards becoming a CFO is that you may have to change companies to get the position you desire. Just because you have the education and experience required to become a CFO doesn’t mean that there will be an opening for you. It is up to you to keep your resume out there and search for the opportunities you want.
The job growth for all top executives, including the CFO, is only anticipated at five percent annually through the end of this decade. This CFO salary figure and job outlook is provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). While the five percent anticipated annual growth rate is much lower than other careers, there is good reason for that. Top management positions don’t grow at the same rate as typical employment because fewer people vacate these positions to move on to something else. People who have worked hard to attain the level of CFO may desire to stay there for the remainder of their careers.