Chief Financial Officer

THERE ARE MANY ACCOUNTANTS and few Chief Financial Officers (CFOs). The accounting track is a popular starting point for many of today's CFOs, but accounting is certainly not the only road to the CFO role. Other popular starting points on the road to the CFO chair include investment banking and consulting.

Regardless of how they get there, CFOs’ job descriptions depend a great deal on the companies they work for. A day in the life of a CFO at a large Fortune 500 company is most certainly different from that of a CFO at a small, entrepreneurial company. Yet they are both called the Chief Financial Officer.

In large companies, it is easy to define the difference between a CFO and a controller. At a smaller company, the most senior financial person may be called a CFO, but is he or she really the “Chief Financial Officer”?

The title “Chief Financial Officer” is well known in the business world. However, when you ask business people to define what a CFO is and what they do, they often find it difficult to describe.


In preparing to write this book, I felt it important to define what a CFO is—and is not.

Most of the books I have seen targeting the Chief Financial Officer are technical in nature and not leadership oriented. In these books, the definitions of the role of the CFO and the people who work for them read ...

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