How do I Become a Financial Executive?

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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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If you want to become a financial executive such as a chief financial officer (CFO), you'll most likely need experience as a certified public accountant (CPA) first. CPAs understand all areas of finance, including theory and how to create financial models. Before passing the CPA examination, aspiring public accountants usually must have a bachelor's degree and two years of accounting work experience, although qualifications may vary depending on each company or corporation. Being a CPA alone is not enough to become a top-notch financial executive such as a CFO, as a strong grasp of financial strategy is required for this high-level career.

Since a CFO is in charge of all of a firm's financial concerns, thinking strategically about all areas of finance is crucial. Treasurers and controllers often report to a CFO, so working in one of these positions and moving up may be a good way to become a financial executive. Controllers tend to work mainly with budgets and financial planning, while treasurers often handle company loans and are more accounting-focused.


The best way to eventually become a financial executive in a senior position is to work your way up in junior positions by showing that you can take the initiative, be a leader and think strategically in business. Once you gain work experience in the financial department of one company that will be attractive on your financial executive resume, it's likely possible to move to higher positions in another firm or the same one. Supervisory and then management skills are a must to pursue if you aspire to the ultimate leadership position of CFO. A minimum of a bachelor's degree from a business school in a reputable university is a good asset for a person who wants to become a senior financial executive. In some companies, a vice president of finance replaces a CFO to lead the financial team.

Developing a relationship with a mentor in a financial executive career can be a helpful way to become a financial executive. You can gain valuable tips from people in financial executive careers such as a vice president of finance or CFO. Joining financial career professional organizations is a good way to network and get information about possible openings to become a financial executive.


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