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Chief Accounting Officer

CAO, Chief Accounting Officer, is an increasingly popular title across the finance industry. The CAO is responsible for overseeing all accounting functions such as ledger accounts, financial statements, and cost control systems.  Their focus includes regulatory compliance and practices and collaborating with the CFO developing financial strategies.

Common responsibilities comprise of:

  • Partnering with the CFO to determine accounting and tax implications for all material business decisions;
  • Reviewing all documentation and contracts in order to develop and improve internal controls;
  • Assisting with quarterly financial reporting - including drafting and reviewing SEC documents, ensuring quality, and administering strict timeline;
  • Managing transaction accounting, SOX, the closing process, and other financial controls;
  • Overseeing General Ledger functions; assure accuracy, timeliness, and conformity with professional accounting standards and best practices in accordance with GAAP;
  • Acting as a liaison to external auditing firms, while owning primary responsibility for the Company’s views on technical accounting matters;
  • Collaborating and contributing to the Senior Leadership Team and BOD to improve overall company performance;
  • Overseeing tax compliance and strategy, as well as, capital assets;
  • Working with senior management to ensure internal compliance.

CAO’s command an average salary of $172,000; with salaries ranging from $71,000 to $275,000. For CAOs, a four-year college degree, at minimum, with an accounting background and a certified public accountant certification, is a must. Common requirements include:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance;
  • CPA certification;
  • Minimum of 5+ years of experience in a senior financial leadership position;
  • Previous experience managing finance and accounting functions;
  • Understanding of tax regulations and compliance;
  • Experience navigating through complete technical research required;
  • Strong proficiency in SAP or other software required;
  • Exceptional business acumen.

Many people don’t realize that the CAO and the CFO vary greatly in their roles and responsibilities. The Chief Financial Officer is responsible for the monetary aspect of the business' entire operation. Matters like costs, budgets, treasury duties, or even on economic strategies and forecasts are within the CFO’s scope. The CAO focus more on company records – ensuring that all ledger accounts, expense statements, and cost control policies are in place. The CAO is focused more on the day-to-day aspects of the business' costs.

For financial professionals who are interested in operations and daily finance, the CAO is the perfect position.

Chief Accounting Officer

Highlighting Your Most Impactful Accounting and Finance Secondary Skills

One of the most rewarding parts of my job is finding that right fit for our candidates. In most cases candidates have a pretty clear idea about what they have not enjoyed in their current or previous positions and what they want in their next one.

Employers within the accounting and finance industry require a specific mix of personal and technical skills. We typically tell candidates to assume that everyone the client meets will be able to technically perform the job duties at a similar level. Therefore, who gets hired depends heavily on the non-technical or secondary skills match. Whether you are looking for a job as a Financial Analyst, an Accounting Manager, or a CFO - the following are the three most commonly evaluated secondary skillsets candidates should be prepared to discuss and showcase in an interview.

Communication

Employers place a high value on candidates with strong communications skills. Accounting & Finance professionals don’t just have to understand numbers – they often have to communicate them clearly to those who are not numbers oriented. Candidates should be prepared to talk about their ability to explain financial policies and procedures and to emphasize their skills in presenting financial data. Candidates should showcase their skills in explaining financial information and data in both formal and informal settings. For example, if in your last position you had to explain the quarterly financial performance of your division to members of the sales team; highlighting this is a great way to demonstrate that you can communicate financial messages to non-finance professionals.

Technology

In accounting and finance, as well as other fields, the ability to use software is a big part of any job. Employers are looking for experience with popular financial software packages such as SAP or Oracle. Candidates should share specific programs with which they are experienced. If you have experience using SAP Business Suite, Business Objects, Crystal Reports, or Cognos list those on your resume. Specifically, employers are looking for how you used technology. Share your experience within context. Be prepared to discuss how you used Crystal Reports to analyze financial data to uncover business trends and opportunities. Software experience tells the employer that you actually have working knowledge of software vs. just knowing its name.

Analytics

While there are always employment trends or changes in some of the skills employers’ desire, one thing that will never change is the need for accounting and finance candidates to have excellent math and analytical skills. Employers value candidates with the ability to calculate and analyze complex financial data. In high demand is broad knowledge of economics and financial markets. Candidates should highlight their experience creating financial reports, budgets, balance sheets, and income statements. If you have examples where you analyzed data to the benefit of your employer, such as reviewing financial reports and finding ways to reduce costs, be sure to share them. Personal stories where you applied your quantitative skills to add value will grab an interviewer’s attention.

Looking for a new position is exciting and definitely a little stressful. In advance of your interview, review the job description thoroughly to best align your skills and experience to the job requirements. By having a clear understanding of what employers’ expect and thinking through how your skills are a match for their needs, you’ll be better equipped to land the job which is best suited for you and your talents.

Highlighting Your Most Impactful Accounting and Finance Secondary Skills

Is This A Job Interview?

Are you are actively working with a recruiter and looking to make a job change, or maybe you’ve received an out-of-the-blue call from a recruiter because you might be a fit for a client of theirs? It’s a compliment to be asked to interview with a recruiter. Recruiters are the eyes and ears of the market, retained by top companies to find the perfect candidate for their job openings. Your interview with a recruiter means they want to consider you for job opportunities.

Is this a real job interview? The recruiter is not hiring you – but they are pitching you to their clients if they feel you are a good fit for the job. So, yes, this is a job interview.

  • Present yourself professionally. As always, greet your interviewer with a handshake.
  • Dress for, and act as though, this IS a job interview. If the recruiter is unimpressed they will not be considering you for any of their next great opportunities.
  • Have extra copies of your resume and references.
  • Listen carefully to all questions and answer them succinctly and honestly. Give examples of previous experience relating to the questions. Meeting with your recruiter is also a time to explain some of your experience and knowledge which didn’t make it on your resume. You want your recruiter to have a lot of information about you. A client may ask for some obscure program experience, you want your recruiter to have insight into your background beyond the major points on your resume.
  • Talk about company culture and what kind of office environment suits you. Recruiters know many candidates, and many with your skillset - your recruiter wants to place you in a company where you will “fit”!
  • Recruiters are not just working for the client only. They want to find you the right job. Reputable recruiters don’t just fill slots. Your recruiter wants to find the right role for YOU at the right company.
  • Recruiters know A LOT about how to interview and about the job and company for which you are being presented. Listen to your recruiter! Recruiters have inside information about the job – they can help you with interview tips and nuggets of information you can use in your job interview. Your recruiter wants you to be well prepared for your job interview.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can just apply on your own. While that may be the case at times -- as an added bonus, recruiters know about jobs that never hit the public. Your relationship with a recruiter may get you in the door or into an interview for a role that is never published on a company’s job-board, website, or outside career sites.

Even if this particular job doesn’t turn out to be the one, build a relationship with your recruiter. They may have another great opportunity right around the corner. Plus, in the future when you are hiring a new member for your corporate team your recruiter may have the perfect candidate --they found you right?!

Is This A Job Interview?