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Chief financial officer

What is a chief financial officer 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.


While the accountancy profession offers diverse career options and paths, the core capabilities required to perform at the highest standards remain the same - irrespective of skill level or job role.

Collaboration Digital Drive Ethics Expertise Insight Sustainability
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Continuing professional development at ACCA

A commitment to life-long learning is a vital part of your ACCA membership; it unlocks the full potential of your career choices - and drives forward the profession.

We deliver a wide range of CPD resources tailored to different areas of expertise - and an ever-changing profession. Our, and your, commitment to quality CPD ensures you will have the most up-to-date skills to perform at the highest standard. 

So, get started (or restarted) and take a look at our curated list of the most relevant CPD resources to secure and succeed in this role.

units 5

Online course

Strategic accounting 5 course pack

This five-course pack from BPP has been designed to enable accountants to develop their strategic thinking and analytical skills. Simply meeting month-
end goals are not enough for today's finance professional. Raise your profile and increase your employability by having a strong grasp of strategic thinking.

By completing this pack, you will gain a better understanding of: 

  • how to identify change and develop a strategy for your organisation
  • formal strategic development models
  • how to align core functions with strategic business objectives, improving your organisation's productivity and effectiveness
  • how to use analytics to measure your strategic success
  • how to include working capital in the strategic approach for your business.
units 21

Online course

Career progression pathway: Chief Financial Officer

The CFO is one of the most prestigious roles in business – the partner and natural deputy to the CEO. As a senior leadership position, it calls for a credible and trusted professional who can look beyond the traditional accounting perspective to meet the needs of key internal and external stakeholders.

This pathway will help you to develop an understanding of the evolving finance function of the future and the role of the CFO in driving business improvement and success. You will look both outwards to the needs of stakeholders, and inwards to the effective performance management of the organisation. As you go, you will learn from our panel of experienced CFOs, who share the secrets of their success in extended video interviews.

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Find more CPD resources on ACCA Learning

How does the ACCA Qualification prepare you for this job role?

From a combination of exams, ethics and experience, the ACCA Qualification will boost your employability and performance at every stage of your career journey.

Here we have listed some elements of the ACCA Qualification that will help you perform at the highest standard in this job role.


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Case study for this role

From AB magazine interview


Finance takes the fast lane

Mercedes Formula One CFO Russell Braithwaite FCCA explains that the champion brand is fuelled by its passion to build financial sustainability