A financial executive is a member of a corporation's top leadership team who typically reports to the chief financial officer (CFO) or the chief executive officer (CEO). She coordinates all finance-related activities in a company, and she ensures that corporate financial statements are accurate, complete and prepared in accordance with accounting principles.
A finance chief is in charge of all accounting and financial reporting duties within a firm. He supervises staff and ensures that the organization's financial statements adhere to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) guidelines, industry practices and top management's directives. A financial executive also oversees tax reporting activities, and she ensures that employees abide by Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requirements when calculating corporate fiscal liabilities (debt).
Education and Training
A finance chief typically holds an advanced degree, such as a master's or doctorate, in accounting, finance, auditing or taxation. A liberal arts major or a finance executive with a bachelor's degree is not uncommon in the field, but employers generally require that job seekers have significant business acumen and practical experience (more than 10 years). A financial executive who has prior public accounting experience usually has a certified public accountant (CPA) or certified internal auditor (CIA) license.
A financial executive's total compensation depends on his seniority, length of service, academic credentials and professional certifications. Other factors, such as shareholders' or corporate directors' decisions, also may affect his pay. A finance chief's remuneration includes wages as well as stock and cash bonuses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2008, finance chief executives earned a median annual wage of $158,560, excluding cash and stock bonuses, with some top executives of large companies earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to more than $1 million annually.
Career growth opportunities for financial executives generally depend on the firm's performance, economic trends and shareholders' actions. A chief of finance also may be promoted if a company engages in a corporate reorganization initiative such as a merger or an acquisition. A competent and skilled finance chief typically moves to a senior role within five to 10 years. He may become senior finance president, chief financial officer, chief accounting officer or corporate president.
A financial executive does not have a typical 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. work shift. Business conditions may require her to work long hours. She may be at the office early in the morning, late at night or on weekends. Occasionally, she may travel to meet with domestic or international clients. The end of the quarter is the busiest time period for a finance chief because she must coordinate regulatory filings with the SEC and IRS.
- Photo Credit junior executive image by Liz Van Steenburgh from Fotolia.com
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