When people praise the successes of companies, their market strategies and quarterly performance, business owners, and CEOs are usually the ones who get all the credit. No one talks nearly as much about CFOs (Chief Financial Officers), and that doesn’t seem fair as it’s their sharp intuition and sense of investment that can make the difference between met and missed quarterly projections. So if you’re a CFO yourself or are looking to hire one, then check out these seven traits that separate real CFOs from wannabes, so your company can thrive.

1. Good Communication

Business communication is in a class of its own, but when it comes to the CFO, they need to be more agile and diplomatic in the way they get their ideas, plans and strategies across. Great communication is essential to gaining the financial trust of stakeholders and investors, which is crucial for the company’s operations. To put it in simpler terms, a CFO’s ability to secure consistent funding by actually delivering their ideas enables the CEO to take the organization in the desired direction without feeling pressed for time and money.

2. Strength of Character

As a general rule, CFOs have a vast array of qualities that make them the powerful individuals that they are. From being composed to confident and assertive, there are many characteristics responsible for establishing the right negotiations with investors and financial decisions on behalf of the company. A real CFO should feel comfortable with an enormous amount of responsibility and pressure to thrive when taking part in intense talks with stakeholders.

3. Financial Competence

CFOs are expected to sign off on the company’s financial statements and internal control systems, which requires knowledge of the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) and SEC regulations that are relevant to the business and industry as a whole. Additionally, the CFO has to understand the financial landscape, including policy and compliance changes, as well as the organization’s capabilities to develop the right strategies and lead the growth charge.

4. Value Chain Insight and Vision

A CFO should be in tune with his target market to be able to create and implement business plans, and align those programs with the strategic vision of the CEO. From customer needs to back-office operations, understanding all parts of the ‘bigger picture’ is required as it translates into concrete action and initiatives that correlate with the broader corporate and financial goals of the business.

5. Attention to Detail

Attention to detail is necessary for the deep understanding of the industry to position the company in a relevant financial context. A real CFO is good with more than mere numbers. He or she should be as involved in the company’s operations as the CEO, and have a working knowledge of Sales & Marketing, R&D, service providers, vendors, and CRM to ensure that financial initiatives in each of these areas are meticulous.

6. Integrity and High Standards

It’s no secret that CFOs are solely responsible for safekeeping the shareholder’s value. This duty is a substantial responsibility for the company, the public and the investors, which requires a great deal of natural integrity and high ethical standards. The right person will be able to balance between what is expected of them and making the right decisions for the company.

7. Risk Assessment Skills

The CFO is expected to take risks, but these should be calculated and make sense financially for the organization. Investment goals and expenses are projected to be traceable through detailed reporting to reduce risks and lead to the improvement of the organization’s market position. Without the right risk assessment skills (and overall characteristic traits), a company’s financial future could be seriously jeopardized.


Written by Paul Podbury @Locomote


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