• Leader

Chief financial officer

Job profile:

Performance management

Career zone:

The transformation driver

Area of expertise

Performance management

What is a chief financial officer (CFO) and what do they do?


The CFO is a member of the senior management team, usually on the main board of a company and assumes a strategic role in influencing the future direction of an organisation. They provide financial leadership and help to align business and finance strategy to grow the organisation and often drive change management or business improvement initiatives within the organisation. CFOs should have an understanding of how to link the numbers and strategy into a compelling story that their stakeholders would find attractive.

CFOs are responsible for ensuring the finance operation is efficient and effective. They have primary responsibility for planning, implementing, managing and controlling all financial-related activities of the business, including business planning, budgeting, forecasting and negotiations. The ability to build a finance team and set professional norms, in the absence of mature processes and procedures is vital.

These professionals must also perform effective risk management and ensure compliance with financial regulations. Increasingly they must have a greater focus on sustainability matters. The CFO must also build and maintain strong relationships with lenders, banks, investors and other financial institutions.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include: 


  • providing strategic recommendations to the CEO and other members of the senior management team with a holistic view of organisational performance
  • advising on long-term business and financial planning
  • providing leadership, direction and management of the finance and accounting team
  • managing the processes for financial forecasting and budgets
  • overseeing the preparation of all financial reporting
  • ensuring credibility of the finance operation by providing timely and accurate analysis of budgets, financial trends and forecasts
  • identifying and addressing financial risk for the company
  • ensuring legal and regulatory documentation is filed
  • monitoring internal controls and compliance with laws and regulations
  • leading transactional activities such as mergers and acquisitions
  • increasingly ensuring the company's environmental and other sustainability obligations are met and accounted for appropriately.

Why are they important?


The CFO uses their financial expertise in a strategic leadership role to create financial success for the company and its stakeholders.

They ensure timely collection of revenue and raise the capital needed to grow, both of which keep the business funded. In addition, they manage the relationships with investors, lenders and key partners.

Person specification


CFOs must exhibit superb drive, displaying excellent leadership and management skills, and have strong technical and ethical skills. Excellent collaboration skills are also required to build and maintain relationships at all levels. Strong influencing skills are also key, as is sound judgement. CFOs should also have a high level of integrity and display all the capabilities required for excellent insight.

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