Learn the Steps to Becoming a CFO

Many accounting and finance professionals dream of becoming a chief financial officer (CFO). For many, being a CFO represents a career peak. It can also feel very prestigious, making it particularly enticing.

However, as with all C-suite opportunities, you can’t become a CFO straight out of school. Instead, you need to dedicate years to the process, ensuring you acquire the right skills, education, and experience to make you a great candidate.

If you want to become a CFO, here are the steps you’ll likely need to take to make it happen.

Become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

Nearly half of CFO’s are also CPA’s, making it one of the most common paths for those who want to follow this road. To be a CPA, you need extensive accounting knowledge and experience. Typically, you’ll spend several years in the field before working towards this credential.

Also, most accountants earn a master’s degree prior to becoming a CPA. Additionally, before the exam, a substantial amount of additional study is generally required, ensuring you are fully prepared before you attempt to get the certification.

Earn a Master of Business Administration (MBA)

While it isn’t technically a requirement, having an MBA can make you a stronger CFO candidate. This graduate degree showcases your understanding of business, and that can give you a competitive advantage when combined with your accounting expertise.

After working as an account for a few years, consider taking steps toward earning your MBA. Whether you commit to a full-time program or proceed more slowly can still yield the same results, so choose a school that allows you to further your education while keeping your career on track.

Land a Treasury Role

If you want a stronger competitive advantage, securing a treasury role during your career can be a smart move. You’ll gain experience in critical areas like cash management, financial investments, and managing risk. Additionally, since only larger companies have these positions, you will increase your professional exposure.

Secure a Controller Position

A controller serves as the chief accounting officer, overseeing an entire accounting department. In many cases, they report directly to a CFO, so the role is seen as a stepping stone that can help a professional reach the C-suite.

In a controller position, you’ll not only handle finance-related tasks, but you’ll also be responsible for managing a department’s operations, including a team of accounting professionals. Plus, you’ll have upper-level responsibilities relating to reporting, budgeting, compliance, and risk management.

Ultimately, all of the steps above can help accounting and finance professionals who are interested in elevating their careers, particularly if they dream of one day becoming a CFO. If you would like to learn more about excelling as an accountant, the team at The Squires Group can help. Contact us to discuss your professional goals with one of our talented recruiters today and see how our career planning and development expertise can benefit you.


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