What Does a CFO DO? Highlighting CFO Job Responsibilities

What does a CFO do and how much does a CFO make? Learn about this exciting C-suite role, CFO job responsibilities, and what it takes to achieve it.

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10 February 2023 - By Saint Leo University
A photo of a Caucasian man sitting at a desk dressed in a business suit looking at his smartphone; in front of him is a nameplate that says 'Chief Financial Officer' and some graphs, charts, and other documents are lying on the desk; this is for the blog article on 'What does a CFO do?' 'How much does a CFO make?' and what the typical CFO job responsibilities actually entail

CFO is a shortened title for the job role of chief financial officer. This top financial executive can be found in nearly all industries and within all sizes of organizations. If you’re interested in pursuing this type of role, you may be wondering what a CFO does, their job responsibilities, and how much they make. Here’s what you need to know.

What Does a CFO Do?

A CFO is responsible for monitoring an organization’s finances, also playing a critical role in helping the organization strategize ways to improve its financial position. The former involves paying attention to monies in and monies out. The latter requires identifying the areas in which the organization is both strong and weak financially.

Recognizing its financial strengths provides the ability to capitalize on those strengths, creating a more financially resilient organization. Recognizing where the organization may be financially weak puts the spotlight on areas that need to be addressed to help reduce its weaknesses or vulnerabilities.

It’s up to the CFO to create a plan to maximize the organization’s financial strengths while minimizing its weaknesses. This plan is often finalized and implemented with the assistance of other C-suite executives, such as the organization’s CEO (chief executive officer) and COO (chief operating officer).

CFO Job Responsibilities

You can’t talk about what a CFO does without also discussing their job responsibilities. These are the actions that a CFO takes daily to help the organization maintain and/or advance its financial position.

A CFO’s job responsibilities include:

  • Monitoring the organization’s revenues, expenses, and cashflow to always stay abreast of its current financial position
  • Preparing the organization’s budget, helping to determine where monies will be applied and how much is needed in certain areas to help the organization reach its desired goals
  • Analyzing data to identify where the organization is strong financially, as well as identifying where changes need to be made to make it stronger and/or reduce its vulnerabilities (such as by reducing costs)
  • Projecting future earnings, giving the organization a clearer idea of what to expect in the years ahead based on its current spending and expected income
  • Preparing financial reports to provide to other high-level executives or stakeholders, helping them make better decisions for the organization based on its current standing and future goals
  • Preparing financial statements required for tax purposes, in addition to the statements required by other regulatory agencies or as requested by other top executives
  • Supervising lower-level employees in financial job roles, ensuring that each is performing their required duties and responsibilities, and helping them overcome any job-related challenges

A CFO’s exact job responsibilities can vary from one organization to another. When pursuing this type of role, it can be helpful to thoroughly read the job description that the organization posts when advertising the open position. This will give you greater insight into what is expected if hired as a CFO for that specific employer.  

How Much Does a CFO Make?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the governmental agency responsible for providing wage information for all occupations in the U.S. While it doesn’t give income data for CFOs specifically, it does share pay for financial managers.

According to BLS data, the median annual pay for financial managers, as of May 2021, was $131,710 per year. Additionally, the bottom 10% of earners in this role had incomes under $77,040 as of that time, with the top 10% of earners having reported wages above $208,000 annually.

Zip Recruiter breaks down the average CFO salary by state. According to this site’s data, North Carolina ($103,036 annually), Louisiana ($108,616), and Georgia ($115,182) have the lowest averages for this position. Conversely, states that tend to pay their CFOs the most are Washington ($170,476), New York ($160,460), and Idaho ($154,218 per year). places the average annual salary of a CFO much higher. According to this site, a CFO makes an average income of $422,800 per year, with a range of $321,500 to $540,300 annually.

Preparing Yourself for a CFO Role

CFOs typically need a higher level of education to perform the duties required in this type of position. If you’re ready to take this step and get your advanced degree, Saint Leo University offers two options.

One is to enroll in Saint Leo University’s Master of Accounting (MAcc) program. This program takes a more in-depth look at accounting principles and procedures, providing advanced instruction in cost accounting, forensic accounting, corporate finance, managerial economics, and more. Saint Leo’s MAcc program also prepares students for the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Management Accounting (CMA) exams.

A second option is to earn your Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a specialization in accounting. This program also provides a strong foundation in accounting theories and practices, in addition to increasing your knowledge and understanding of business fundamentals.  

Not sure what the best educational path is for you? Contact the Saint Leo Graduate Admissions team today. Saint Leo representatives can talk more about the differences between these two master’s-level accounting degree programs, as well as discussing your career goals and which program may fit them best.