Five Skill Sets for a Controller to Develop on the Journey to CFO

The Journal of Accountancy provides five prerequisites for CPAs and Controllers who aspire to achieve the CFO role:

  1. Strategist — this ties in with seeing the “big picture” of how the organization creates value in the marketplace. Rather than focusing exclusively on the details and priorities of your department or role, tune in to the broader mission of serving customers and developing new business growth prospects. For example, a controller must ensure that employees receive their paychecks, customers are invoiced timely and accurately, vendors are paid, and so forth. These traditional functions are important and might be enough to keep a controller busy, but there is a bigger picture of organizational structure and business develop that summons the resources and creativity of the finance group.
  2. Translator — beyond understanding the strategy and being involved with its implementation, according to the article, “It is critical for the CFO to translate the capabilities and performance measures of the organization into useful information for the CEO and, in turn, translate the CEO’s strategy into a measurable, actionable plan.”
  3. Leader — senior executives, including CFOs, must effectively communicate, inspire achievement for others within the organization, and set a tone of excellence and ethical conduct.
  4. Technical Generalist — seek out a variety of experiences to learn new skills. Ask questions and branch out beyond financial reporting and tax into treasury and cash management functions, forecasting and budgeting, risk management, HR, and IT. I have found these opportunities to be available in abundance particularly within smaller organizations.
  5. Facilitator — defy the stereotypical reputation of the accounting department as “the place where all good ideas come to die,” and focus instead on helping other groups solve their problems and achieve their objectives. Network with others, ask questions, and be proactive.

Read the whole article: CFO 101: Five Prerequisites.