Careers as Financial Officer Job Description, Requirements and Outlook
Financial officers manage budgets, financial reporting, investments and risks for organizations. Learn key Financial Officer Job Description, responsibilities, typical qualifications and career growth outlook for financial officer roles.
A financial officer, sometimes referred to as a finance officer, plays a critical role in an organization’s financial health and strategy. Financial officers have the following core responsibilities:
- Promoting the Organization’s Financial Health – Financial officers analyze financial statements, business plans, and other information to ensure the organization is financially strong and identify areas for improvement.
- Providing Financial Recommendations and Guidance – By understanding trends and anticipating changes, financial officers recommend investments, budgets, contracts, expansions, and other financial decisions that impact the bottom line.
- Managing Cash Flow – Financial officers oversee cash management including tracking cash flow, liquidity levels, and investments to ensure funds are available to meet the organization’s operating and debt obligations.
As a financial officer, key job responsibilities may include:
Financial Reporting and Analysis
- Prepare financial statements, business plans, budgets, variance reports, projected financials and other documents
- Conduct ratio analysis, cash flow analysis and other techniques to assess the organization’s performance
- Identify financial trends, risks, or irregularities needing attention
- Develop an organization-wide budget and monitor it
- Control expenditures by establishing standard costs and financial plans
- Set budget guidelines for departments
- Advise management on budget changes needed
Risk Management and Internal Controls
- Develop and implement policies to safeguard company assets and finances
- Ensure financial transactions comply with laws, regulations, grants, contracts
- Recommend improvements for risk management and financial controls
Requirements and Qualifications
To be an effective financial officer, these skills and education are typical requirements:
Most financial officer positions require a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance, business administration, economics or related major. Higher-level roles may require a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) or finance.
Many financial officers pursue professional credentials such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) depending on their specialty.
Key Skills and Knowledge
- Analytical skills – Review complex financial data and detect issues
- Accounting expertise – Understand and apply accounting principles
- Communication ability – Present financial findings clearly
- Leadership – Guide departments on sound financial decisions
- Integrity and ethics – Deal with sensitive financial data
Career Paths and Outlook
Pursuing a financial officer career can lead to these lucrative roles:
Chief Financial Officer – Direct all financial functions as top executive
Controller – Manage accounting departments and direct financial reporting
Treasurer – Oversee banking, investments, asset management
Budget Director – Develop and control organizational budgets
Credit Manager – Evaluate credit risks of loans, bonds, and clients
The career outlook for financial officers is strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of these professionals is projected to grow 17 per cent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. The ageing Baby Boomer workforce in finance positions also contributes to robust job openings.
Pursuing a career as a financial officer offers dynamic work directing key organizational decisions to keep finances healthy. With strong demand and competitive salaries, it’s an ideal path if you have math aptitude and an interest in accounting and strategic planning.