Chief Financial Officers do a lot more than just crunch numbers; they must possess a holistic understanding of the financial workings of their company, and also of their entire industry. A CFO is a pivotal part of company leadership, helping make crucial financial decisions and leading the execution of those decisions.CFOs do also crunch numbers, and they must have a strong handle on company accounting down to the details. They are responsible both for staying on top of existing company finances as well as projecting and directing the company toward its ultimate financial goals. Their overarching role is to make the company as financially successful and profitable as possible.
CFOs have three main areas of financial responsibility that cover the past, present, and future of a company.
1. Past: controllership duties – CFOs report and analyze the company’s past and present finances and are responsible to shareholders and other company leaders. They oversee daily financial operations, and are in charge of anyone else in the company who touches these operations.
2. Present: treasury duties – CFOs oversee the company’s capital and finances, usually reporting to the COO in this capacity. They decide how to spend money by weighing risk and liquidity factors, and keep the capital structure intact.
3. Future: forecasting duties – CFOs use all of the above information to predict the company’s business successes in the future by weighing in on products and services to determine what’s likely to be profitable and what’s not. This can have a huge impact on a potential public offering, and is one of the reasons that companies looking to go public rely heavily on a CFO.
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The COO’s particular role often depends on the strengths and preferences of the company’s CEO. Sometimes a COO handles all the internal affairs of a company, while the CEO focuses on being the public face of the company. In this case, a COO may be responsible for production, research and development, and even marketing. In many cases, the COO is chosen specifically to complement the strengths and weaknesses of the CEO or to work in tandem with a CEO who prefers to function as a member of a leadership team.COOs are often responsible for the execution of the strategies proposed by the CEO and the rest of the company’s senior leadership. In an entrepreneurial situation, the COO may have significantly more experience than the CEO, who may be the founder of the company. In this circumstance, the COO is expected to mentor the CEO during the early stages of the business’s development.