CFO career journey

Preparing for the CFO role

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Steps to prepare for the CFO role

As the Group CFO position evolves, those in the role face the challenge of ensuring they have the right portfolio of talent beneath them, and those who aspire to the role face a daunting task of building the skills and experience that will enable them to move up.

Aspirants must build relationships with the right stakeholders, gain broad commercial and strategic experience and learn how to build and lead diverse teams of specialists from across the full spectrum of finance capabilities. Regardless of whether a candidate comes from a divisional CFO, financial controller or head of treasury role, moving into the top job is a big leap.

Our research suggests that there are nine steps that aspiring Group CFOs can take to ensure that they are well prepared to meet the future challenges of the role.

1. Gain a breadth of finance experience

Diversity is more important than vertical focus

2. Develop commercial insight

Consider the option of temporarily stepping out of finance

3. Seek out M&A experience

Get post- as well as pre-deal exposure

4. Obtain a balance of traditional and non-traditional skills

Traditional finance skills remain critical, but will not differentiate

5. Develop leadership skills

Build teams with diverse skills

6. Get international exposure

An understanding of emerging market dynamics is important

7. Gain experience of finance transformation initiatives

Get exposure to the full range of finance activities as well as big project experience

8. Get exposure to the market and its stakeholders

Communication and networking skills will distinguish the top contenders

9. Build effective relationships with the board

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This article was excerpted from Finance Forte: the future of finance leadership.