Should your CFO be a CPA?

It only makes sense for my first blog post to be an issue that is controversial.

The correct answer to the question…not necessarily.

A CFO is a well-rounded management executive, whose primary role is “advisor” to the CEO, regarding strategy and direction of the company. He/she is a finance expert that must interact with internal groups (HR, IT, Accounting, Sales) and represent the company with external groups (banks, investors, reporting agencies, auditors).

I am in no way dismissing the knowledge and experience gained in public accounting, by a CPA. However, a CPA would be a Subject Matter Expert in only one area that requires attention from a CFO.

While the CFO need not be a CPA; he/she must certainly be able to understand the issues and ramifications of decisions. He/she needs a strong understanding of GAAP; and be skilled in financial statements, the general ledger, and the day-to-day technical skills.

Experience is the primary requirement for a company’s top Finance post. A CFO with hands-on experience and exposure to different situations and complex challenges enables them to quickly analyze and assess any situation.

Author: Regis Quirin
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Regis Quirin is a financial executive with 23 years of corporate experience, i.e. New York Stock Exchange, JP Morgan Chase, and GMAC ResCap; and 15 years working with small and medium-sized entities, i.e. joint ventures, start-up entities, established businesses. In 2014, Regis published "Redesign to Turnaround Underperforming Small and Medium-Sized Businesses" available via Amazon.
© Copyright 2012 Regis Quirin, All rights Reserved. Written For: CFO Tips - What you need to know, to be a CFO TODAY!

Regis Quirin

Regis Quirin is a financial executive with 23 years of corporate experience, i.e. New York Stock Exchange, JP Morgan Chase, and GMAC ResCap; and 15 years working with small and medium-sized entities, i.e. joint ventures, start-up entities, established businesses. In 2014, Regis published "Redesign to Turnaround Underperforming Small and Medium-Sized Businesses" available via Amazon.

31 thoughts on “Should your CFO be a CPA?

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  12. Every state has minor little tweaks. But essentially they all require –

    -Education: usually 150 hours of specific course material,
    -Uniform CPA Examination: a four part test consistent across all states.
    -Experience: work under a CPA for a set time period.

    You really need to check each state as the differences can be tricky, i.e. certification vs license; education in lieu provision; ethics test; need to reside in the state vs. outside of the state…

    1. While I agree that a CFO does “not necessarily” need to be a CPA, don’t discount the subject area(s) in which a CPA is an expert; i.e. Accounting/Finance. The primary responsibility of a CFO is to make decisions based on financial risk to an organization and the effect on the financial statements. Either being a CPA or having one close at hand (internally/externally) is critical to a CFO.

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