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11 Key Skills CEOs Seek in CFOs for Private Companies and Nonprofit Organizations

December 18, 2023

While preferences may vary depending on the industry, the ideal Chief Financial Officer has several key skills including financial expertise, strategic thinking, risk management and more. Read on.

CEOs (Chief Executive Officers) typically look for specific qualities and skills in their CFOs (Chief Financial Officers) due to their critical role in a company or organization's strategic and financial management. While preferences may vary depending on the industry, company size, and corporate culture, here are some key attributes that CEOs often seek in their CFOs:

Financial Expertise: This is a fundamental requirement. A CFO should understand financial principles, accounting practices, and financial reporting strongly. CEOs look for CFOs who provide accurate and insightful financial analysis to guide strategic decisions.

Strategic Thinking: CFOs are not just responsible for managing the financial aspects of the company; they also play a key role in shaping the company's/organization’s overall strategy. CEOs value CFOs who align financial goals with broader business objectives and contribute to long-term planning.

Risk Management: A CFO needs to assess and manage the company's financial risks. CEOs appreciate CFOs who can identify potential risks, develop strategies to mitigate them and provide guidance on risk-related decisions.

Communication Skills: Effective communication is essential for a CFO to convey complex financial information to both internal and external stakeholders. CFOs must be able to present financial data in a clear and understandable manner, especially during board meetings, investor presentations, and interactions with regulatory bodies.

Collaboration and Relationship Building: CFOs work closely with other C-suite executives, department heads, and external partners. CEOs value CFOs who can collaborate effectively across different departments and build strong working relationships.

Data-Driven Decision Making: Modern CFOs need to leverage data analytics to provide insights that inform business decisions. CEOs seek CFOs who can use data to drive strategic choices, improve operational efficiency, and identify growth opportunities.

Adaptability and Innovation: The business landscape is constantly evolving, and CFOs must be adaptable to changes in technology, regulations, and market conditions. CFOs who can innovate and embrace new tools and approaches are highly valued.

Ethical Integrity: CEOs place a high premium on ethical behavior in financial matters. A trustworthy CFO who upholds ethical standards and ensures compliance with financial regulations is crucial for maintaining the company's/Organization’s reputation and credibility.

Leadership and Team Management: CFOs often lead finance teams and set the tone for the financial function within the organization. CEOs appreciate CFOs who effectively manage and develop their teams to deliver exceptional results.

Global Perspective: CFOs with a global mindset who can navigate cross-border complexities are highly sought after for companies or nonprofit organizations with international operations.

M&A and Capital Allocation Expertise: If the company is involved in mergers and acquisitions or requires effective capital allocation strategies, CEOs value CFOs with experience in these areas.

Operational Insight: CFOs who understand the operational aspects of the business can provide valuable insights to optimize processes, reduce costs, and enhance overall efficiency.

Ultimately, the CFO-CEO relationship is critical for a company's success, and CEOs look for CFOs who can not only manage financial matters but also act as strategic partners in achieving the company's/organization’s goals.

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