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Important Skills for a Future CFO

A company’s traditional executive board is made up of 4 major C-level members – Chief Executive Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Financial Officer. Each of these managerial positions focus on different parts of the business, however, in order for an organization to be successful, all parties must align and participate in each other’s job function. For many, many years, a CFO’s sole priority has remained holding responsibility for the company’s financial state and accurately forecasting numbers based on historical data. While this continues to be top priority, the CFO must also be involved in the growth strategy of the organization, as well as the plan on how to keep the business sustainable. For future CFO’s or current financial officers looking to expand their experience, here are 3 important skills to obtain.

Data Analysis
Consumer data is becoming increasingly critical for companies to analyze and use as business evaluation. This information provides insight to a list of things, such as market growth, customer pain points, and targeted business planning. While this seems to be a job more for the CMO and COO, CFOs are being asked to dive into this realm, using analytics to develop better and more accurate financial forecasts. Additionally, this means financial teams will be spending much more time using technology and cloud-based services versus manually recording numbers. Not only will this theoretically save time but will also identify potential efficiencies.

Strategic Thinking
With the professional relationship between CEOs and CFOs meeting a new level, it is important for the financial officer to have experience and / or ability in high-level strategic thinking. Ultimately, they need to determine how specific business development decisions made by various members of the exec board will be maintainable long-term. Therefore, implementing the growth strategy into the financial forecast for upcoming years.

The most obvious, but, arguably, most important skill a CFO must have is leadership. Not only does this person oversee the entire finance and accounting departments, they are direct managers to those in director positions whom are shaping and training the newest talent. With personnel in these areas performing various roles at fluctuating levels, having strong leadership in the CFO seat is essential for high-quality work. It is common for many CFOs to be extremely knowledgeable with the numbers but not so much in management – Therefore, lacking in motivational skills to keep the teams all moving in the same direction. The most successful CFO is someone who has a firm grip on both in order to help drive the company ahead of its competitors.