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How to Become a CFO
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Want to become a CFO? 5 Tips to Help You Along Your Career Path

For Future CFO's: 5 Steps Towards to Progress Your Career

Working in accountancy and finance can progress to a leadership position such as Financial Controller, Finance Director, and Chief Financial Officer.

Whether you are just embarking on your financial career, or you are a finance professional already on the path to a CFO position, you are about to discover how to become a finance leader.

Here are 5 useful tips to develop your leadership skills and increase your chance of becoming a CFO:

1. Build a Strong Foundation: Developing Your Skills and Knowledge

With the introduction of AI and technological advancement, decision-making processes are now driven by data. Educating yourself in these areas will provide you with a competitive edge and equip you with the skill set for a role as a CFO:

  • Technical Expertise: Master the fundamentals of accounting, financial analysis, reporting, and forecasting. Familiarity with industry-specific accounting software like QuickBooks or Xero is beneficial.

Furthermore, knowledge of accounting principles and regulations such as IFRS and UK GAAP is essential for career growth.

  • Data Analytics: The ability to interpret financial data and transform it into actions that govern financial decisions is vital.

Certifications in data analysis or business intelligence demonstrate your ability to understand and utilise data for making strategic decisions.

  • Communication: One of the most essential skills for a CFO is possessing excellent written and verbal communication. You must be able to effectively articulate business-wide changes and complex financial data.

Practicing your presentation skills will help with communicating to a larger audience. 

  • Problem-Solving: The ability to identify and solve financial problems creatively is essential at all steps of your finance career and is critical to helping you become a finance executive.

Develop your analytical thinking and critical reasoning skills to tackle challenges with confidence.

  • Business Acumen: Looking beyond the numbers and understanding the bigger picture of a business is key for opening yourself up to more career opportunities, particularly in leadership roles.

Work on your understanding of other business operations such as Human Resources, Operations, and Marketing to gain a rounded view of an organisation’s success.

  • Embrace Continuous Learning: As a Consultancy, we handle many leadership roles that require professionals to possess an accounting and finance qualification, as well as a bachelor's degree in accounting/finance or a master's degree in finance/accounting.

If you do pursue a qualification, and even if you do not, it is worth staying up to date with advancements in the finance industry by attending events, webinars, and workshops. 

2. Creating a Clear Vision: Define Your Career Goals 

Self-awareness is a powerful tool for planning your career in accounting and will help you work more efficiently towards a CFO role. Take time to reflect on what a successful career would mean to you.

A good CFO must have experience of managing a finance team, is that a responsibility you are comfortable with? Do you want to work as a CFO, or do you prefer working at a managerial level?

Once you understand whether the CFO career path is for you, consider educating yourself in specialist fields so you know which areas suit you best. Gain an in-depth understanding of:

  • Corporate Finance: Financial risk management and take time to understand the capital structure of a company.

  • Investment Banking: Facilitating mergers and acquisitions and raising capital for businesses.

  • Financial Accounting & Auditing: Preparing financials and ensuring compliance with accounting standards.

  • Forensic Accounting: Investigating financial irregularities and fraud.

Networking is Critical

The finance world is a small one, so it is useful for an Accountant, to build a strong professional network.

Stay in contact with past colleagues as you never know when you will work together again. 

Attend industry events, connect with colleagues on LinkedIn, and don't hesitate to reach out to mentors for guidance.

3. Leverage the Expertise of a Finance & Accounting Recruitment Consultancy

A specialist finance and accounting recruitment consultancy like Venture can help boost your career progression prospects through:

  • Market Insights: We possess in-depth knowledge of current job market trends, salary benchmarks, and the skill sets that employers in your field are seeking. 

  • Bespoke Job Search: Our specialist Consultants will know of job opportunities before the hiring process has started. Whilst they may not be able to share details straight away, they can give you the heads up about upcoming roles that will offer the step-up or finance experience you are looking for. 

  • CV Advice and Interview Guidance: We know how hard it is to showcase your expertise. We give you advice on how to tailor your CV, so it is aimed at securing roles with progression.

For any interview that we set up for you, the consultant you are working with will also provide interview tips and coaching so you are confident and articulate.

  • Negotiation Support: Our dedicated team will also guide you through the salary negotiation process, ensuring you receive a fair and competitive salary and benefits package.

Download our free Salary Guide for a benchmark of what you should be paid in the current market. 

Finding the Right Recruitment Partner

At Venture, partner you with consultants on our team who are relevant to the area and level of role you are looking for.

Our team takes pride in getting to know you and to understand your long-term career goals.

We will only contact you with roles and organisations we think would be right.

4. Continuous Learning & Development

There is no doubt that a CFO may have to deal with overwhelming change and challenges during their tenure.

They will be responsible for overseeing the business during that period by making informed decisions based on financial performance, managing the process, and providing stability.

A CFO needs to be knowledgeable and adaptable. Here's how to ensure you are constantly developing yourself:

  • Regularly refresh your knowledge of financial legislation, stay informed on movements in the market, and talk to your team. CFOs need to communicate clearly and effectively.

Working in finance, you have plenty of opportunities to hone your verbal communication by presenting financial statements and data.

  • All CFOs will be responsible for managing a team. Throughout your career, you must seek opportunities that offer management experience.

In the early stages of pursuing the path to CFO, this may look like coaching your colleagues. Later, in Finance Manager role,s for example, you will have direct reports and will gain experience of 1 to 1 management.

  • Attend webinars and events to stay up to date with what is happening in the market and other businesses. Chief Financial Officers will be relied upon to ensure the business is innovative and maintains a competitive edge. 

  • Take up opportunities for promotion or exploring new areas of the business. Developing yourself in areas you haven't previously explored, will expand your knowledge, and set you up for top finance roles. 

5. Working towards the CFO Role: Action Points

Here's how to put the above tips into practice:

  • Outline Your Career Plan: Work with your manager to define your short-term and long-term goals. Highlight the soft skills you need to develop and areas for learning. Set yourself deadlines so you stay on track. 

  • Keep Your CV Updated: Make a comprehensive version of your CV which you regularly update with new skills and achievements you have gained. This may not be the version you send to future employers, but it is the one you will pull relevant information from. 

  • Stay Active on LinkedIn: Build a strong presence on LinkedIn by following people relevant to your role and location. Engage with their posts and start forming new connections to open yourself up to more opportunities. 

  • Networking: Attend industry-specific events and engage in conversations to showcase your expertise. 

  • Seek Mentorship: Find a respected mentor in your field who can provide guidance and career advice.

Working in finance and progressing to the Executive level is a rewarding career, but it takes time and investment. At all stages on the path to becoming a CFO, you must seek opportunities for professional development and to showcase your expertise. 

At Venture, we don't just help you secure a step up in your career. We build long-lasting relationships with the professionals we work with and will help you work towards your end goal. 

Right now, we have brand new openings for Management Accountants, Financial Analysts, Financial Planning Analysts, and Senior Finance Professionals. Register your CV here for a detailed rundown of our latest roles and to kickstart your journey to CFO.