10 Characteristics of a Successful CFO


1. Financial Foresight

The ability to anticipate financial management issues and address them is an essential character trait in creating wealth for the company.

2. Excellent Communication Skills

Written and oral communication skills are an essential quality for a CFO, as they must be able to effectively communicate the financial health of the company to all stakeholders.

3. Confidence

The ability to make decisions on behalf of the company with confidence and assertiveness are good character traits for a successful CFO.

4. Vision and Foresight

A CFO should have foresight and be in tune with his market, enabling him to create and implement business plans for the company and aligning them with the ‘bigger picture’ of the company’s future.

5. Accounting & Financial Competence

With the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 that requires CFO’s to sign off on financial statements and internal control systems confirming their accuracy it is essential for the CFO’s to know the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and SEC regulations that are relevant to their business.

6. Deep Understanding of Business

A deep understanding of business is a must because a good CFO is more than just a ‘numbers guy.’ He should immerse himself in the operations of the company have a macro view of the numbers, drivers and pains relating to Sales & Marketing, R&D, Service providers, Vendors, etc.

7. Integrity and Ethical Standards

A strong will which ensures that one is always doing the right thing by upholding the ethical and professional standards and is honest in all transactions  with the company and the stakeholders.

8. Perspective on Risk

The willingness to try new things and take calculated risks to grow the business and improve the financial position of the company.

9. Result Oriented Nature

The ability to set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and traceable is a good trait which helps a successful CFO manage the expectations of the company’s stakeholders-employees, investors, board of directors, analysts- as well as direct the financial operations of the company.

10. Leadership skills

A CFO should posses leadership qualities to enable him to delegate and oversee the financial operations of the company effectively. These qualities include emotional intelligence; self awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

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