Four Skills Between You and the CFO Office

John Krautzel
Posted by in Accounting, Auditing & Tax

If becoming a chief financial officer is one of your career goals, you must master certain skills as an accountant first. Basic accounting skills are not enough to help you advance to an executive position, so you must make the executive team aware of your business acumen. If you can demonstrate that you approach accounting problems from a strategic perspective, you have a much better chance of impressing the CEO and advancing into the CFO role. Master these four skills to advance your accounting career and reach your goals.

If you want to become a CFO, you must demonstrate excellent leadership skills. David McCann, a contributor to the "CFO" website, says strong leadership skills are one of the "dominant factors" in determining who gets hired as a CFO. Improve your leadership skills by participating in a leadership development program or by asking a senior executive to mentor you in the early stages of your career.

Facilitation skills are very important for someone who wants to become a CFO. Many accountants are known for pointing out flaws in project proposals, but what your organization really needs is someone to help people achieve its goals. Use your accounting skills to help team members develop realistic project budgets, and use your facilitation skills to help workers finish their projects on time and within budget. This will help you show current members of the executive team you have what it takes to become a CFO.

Many degree programs focus on helping students develop strong accounting skills but fail to prepare students for the rigors of working in the accounting field. If you did not develop strong presentation skills in school, this is something you will need to work on if you want to advance your career. Chief financial officers must present complex information to CEOs and other executives, so you must be comfortable speaking in front of a group. You should also be able to develop presentation slides for meetings and other events.

Chief financial officers work with controllers, auditors, treasury managers, and other people with accounting skills, making strong coaching skills essential for success. If you do not hold a supervisory position, look for other ways to develop your coaching skills. Volunteer for a special project involving several team members, or offer to train a new employee. You will use your newfound coaching skills for the rest of your accounting career.

The right accounting skills will help you get your foot in the door, but you must have advanced business skills if you want to become a member of the executive team. If your company does not have a formal leadership development program, look for other ways to develop the skills you need. Learning how to deliver presentations, coach and train employees, and facilitate projects will help you enhance your basic accounting skills and move into a more rewarding job.


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