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What is a Chief Financial Officer (CFO)?
The CFO is a key figure in the growth of the company. As Chief Financial Officer/ Commercial Manager, his core task is the preparation of monthly, quarterly, half-yearly and annual financial statements in accordance with HGB and IFRS/IAS – but he is much more than a »master of numbers and finance«. Because CFOs are also strategists who think in a networked manner and recognize opportunities and risks at an early stage and must be able to derive and implement measures. A CFO sets standards, cuts costs and drives the company forward.
In the present, the CFO is at the forefront behind the CEO when it comes to future-oriented decision-making processes (such as M&A projects, setting up international branches, etc.). He masters the duties of internal and external “governance and compliance ” and stands for professional risk management.
As the person responsible for investor relations, the CFO is a guarantee for trustworthy and transparent communication between the company and the financial markets, supervisory authorities and other important stakeholders. With the opening of the financial markets, the CFO is currently accommodating the information needs of the shareholders without losing sight of the company’s internal interests. The key word here is expectation management for everyone involved.
Strategists – also for digitization
Due to the globalization of the purchasing and sales markets, international knowledge of the respective industry and of the global capital markets is required for this position. Internally, the CFO acts as a sparring partner for the CEO and as a driving force in the management team, which he advises and supports in managing and controlling the company and in making strategic decisions. As a controlling specialist, he is expected to keep an eye on both the past and the future with figures and visions.
The role of the CFO has also evolved in medium-sized companies: in addition to raising capital and managing liquidity, one of his tasks is to add value from financial transactions. Digitization strategies and data integration are still high on the work agenda of CFOs today.
A CFO further develops the ERP system and the internal control system. In addition, he coordinates the cooperation with tax consultants and auditors. Competent personnel management as head of numerous departments is also one of his tasks.
The most important things in 5 seconds
- Education: University degree in economics
- Starting salary: €100,000
- Top salary: €400,000
- Opportunities for advancement: CEO
What does a CFO do?
- Leading the areas of finance, accounting, controlling
- Possibly responsible for the HR department, IR and IT
- competent personnel management
- control of the company
- Leading the preparation of annual, half-yearly, quarterly and monthly financial statements and reports in accordance with HGB and IFRS/IAS
- Budget and liquidity planning and procurement
- Treasury and risk management
- Optimization of the internal control system
- Reporting, analysis and communication of the key economic indicators for the CEO, Supervisory Board, investors and stakeholders
- Sparring partner for the CEO and the management teams
- Accounting and expertise in corporate taxation
- Coordination of tax consultants and auditors
- If necessary, management of investor relations activities (roadshows, analyst and investor support, annual reports, general meetings, etc.)
- Further development of the ERP system and digital systems
- Contact person for banks
How does one become a CFO?
The CFO should not only master all accounting issues, he also needs focused management knowledge and must master the rules and instruments of the capital market and investor relations. Only equipped with this experience and knowledge can he face his diverse tasks convincingly. Accordingly, CFOs have many years of (management) experience with them when they take up their position.
Skills in detail:
- completed university degree in economics
- Many years of professional experience in a managerial position in finance, controlling, bookkeeping or accounting
- If necessary, international professional experience including the founding, development and management of foreign branches
- Initiation and implementation of M & A projects
- Operational knowledge of IFRS/IAS and HGB
- Capital market experience
- Experience in managing employees
- Knowledge of tax law issues
- Knowledge of ERP systems
- Understanding of IT systems and processes, MS Office, SAP
- fluent knowledge of English, possibly further foreign language skills
What does a CFO earn?
up to €400,000
The salary range of a CFO is wide, because the annual income depends on the size of the company and the scope of the responsibility. So it can be from 100,000 to 400,000 € in medium-sized companies. In the case of DAX-listed companies or corporations, the gross annual salary including bonuses is well over the million mark. The current trend in the salary development of CFOs is rising.
What do you expect from the CFO?
CFOs are experts who are confident in many disciplines. High social skills, diligence and a self-confident demeanor are essential requirements for this management position. Analyzing and working on processes analytically and in an interdisciplinary manner is also one of the natural skills of a CFO – because he has to ensure the economic success of a company. Thanks to his empathy and knowledge of human nature, he manages to lead his staff skilfully.
Opportunities for advancement as CFO
A CFO already occupies a high position in a company’s hierarchy. A career leap would be the position of CEO or a change of job in the same position in a larger company or the leap into an internationally active group.
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