Career Advice Career Guidance and Counselling

Filling the CFO job

The role of chief financial officer (CFO) has evolved in recent years and now involves being a business leader and decision maker who can provide insights into both future performance projections and strategic planning.

This means that if you are an aspiring CFO, you need to show that you are in tune with the operational and commercial drivers of a business and are aligned with management to be able to advise and drive operational efficiency and maximise commercial profitability.

Employers are looking for accountants to step outside the traditional finance function and be involved in "big picture" business strategy. As well as looking for people who are good at numbers, have a commercial mindset and can work closely with the business to help it grow and make it more efficient, they also want candidates with a strategic mindset and business partnering experience.

By developing your soft skills, you can improve your ability to lead, manage and interrelate with your colleagues - skills that can also determine your ability to fit into an existing team.

When stepping up to the CFO role, candidates are advised to focus on communication skills and not just their technical skills. This becomes even more important if you want to broaden your horizons into strategic input and possible progression to CEO.

The constant refinement of skills - communication, leadership and teamwork - is key to career development. Strength in these areas will set apart a senior accountant from a CFO, and a good candidate from a great candidate.

Marc Burrage, regional director of Hays in Hong Kong