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Aspiring CPAs to CFOs | What to do?


Whether you’re currently in the process of getting your CPA or earned the prestigious designation years ago, you’ve may have one goal in mind for your future — become the CFO of a company. This is an ambitious goal that requires both hard work and a well-planned career road map.

With some planning and strategic decision making, you can ensure that you have what it takes to become a CFO. Now it’s time to get started by following these tips to put yourself on the right path:

  • Diversify your experience: A strong CFO candidate has a well-rounded background, having held positions in a variety of disciplines. As a CPA, your specialty begins in accounting, but you’ll need to break out of your comfort zone and diversify your experience. Branching out in your career will allow you to add a whole new set of skills and experience to your resume, such as financial planning and analysis, business strategy, technology, and operations. Each new position that you accept should allow you to add valuable new areas of expertise to your resume. When the time comes to begin looking for a CFO position, you’ll impress the search committee with your diverse background.
  • Gain management experience: To be considered for a CFO position, it’s essential that you have strong management experience. Companies want to know that not only can you crunch the numbers, but that you can also serve as an effective manager to teams that include more than just Accounting and Finance. The Wall Street Journal notes that 26% of the 100 professionals appointed to CFO positions in 2013, at the 1,000 largest companies in the U.S., were previously working as a divisional president or in another general-management job. When you’re serving in a position that holds as much power as a CFO, companies need to know that you have the skills to manage people with a wide range of responsibilities.
  • Don’t get too comfortable: While it’s easy to get comfortable working in a certain position or niche, that’s not how one climbs the corporate ladder. It’s okay to change companies and roles to gain the experience that you need to prepare for a CFO position. For example, if you’re in public accounting, complete the CPA process, and then move out of professional services and into industry no later than making Manager.  Once in industry, master Accounting and Reporting, and then move into Financial Planning and Analysis.  From there, get involved in Strategic and Operational roles.  Earn a role that drives decisions that affect your company’s growth and success.  Financial professionals who stay in one discipline too long are often seen as a specialist who lacks the diversified skillset to become a company’s CFO.

Need a little help getting on the path from CPA to CFO? Whether you’re just starting out or working to get back on track after veering off course, Conexus can help. Our executive financial recruiting firm will work with you help you find the right positions to prepare you for your dream of becoming a CFO.

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