The primary job responsibility of the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is to optimize the financial performance of a company, including its reporting, liquidity, and return on investment. This guide will answer the question of, “What does a CFO do?”
Within a company, these responsibilities fall into departments typically known as the controller’s group, treasury, and financial planning and analysis (FP&A).
What Does a CFO Do?
As we outlined above, the job of the CFO falls into three main categories, which are broken down in further detail below as we attempt to outline for you, “What does a CFO do?”. To learn more about progressions across a wide range of corporate finance careers, check out our interactive career map.
Reporting takes up a lot of a CFO’s time, and this responsibility typically resides in the Controller’s group. This team of professionals prepares all of the company’s historical financial reports required for shareholders, employees, lenders, research analysts, governments, and regulatory bodies. This group is responsible for ensuring all reporting is prepared in an accurate and timely manner.
The CFO needs to ensure the company is able to meet its financial commitments and manage cash flow in the most efficient way. These responsibilities are usually carried out by the treasury group, which is often smaller than the reporting team. This group is tasked with managing the company’s cash balance and working capital, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable, and inventory. They also carry out the issuing of any debt, managing investments, and handle other liquidity-related decisions.
3. Return on Investment
The third thing a CFO does is help earn the company earn the highest possible risk-adjusted return on assets and return on capital (or return on equity). This is where the financial planning and analysis – FP&A team – comes in to help the CFO forecast future cash flow of the business and then compare actual results to what was budgeted. The FP&A team plays a critical role in analytics and decision making in the business.
If the company has a corporate development team, they also play a big part in creating (or attempting to create) optimal investment returns for the business.
What Else Does a CFO Do?
Surely the above is not all a CFO does. Well, the above is actually quite a lot for a CFO to do, but there are other duties that include leadership, communication with the board, negotiating with suppliers and vendors, and supporting the company’s mission, vision, values, and culture.
Other groups that might report to the CFO include supply chain, procurement, information technology (IT), and almost any other department, depending on the organization and the skill set of the CFO.
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