There are many careers in banking and finance, but one of the tracks that leads to natural promotions is accounting. If you’re looking at jobs in accounting—but perhaps aspiring to something higher someday—here are three corporate finance careers that often come out of the accounting ranks or are founded on certified public accountant (CPA) credentials.
- Corporate Controller
A corporate controller manages the accounting and other financial staff, ensuring that the company’s financial actions comply with plans laid out by senior leadership. A controller maintains consistency in accounting, and is aware of—and ready to report on—the company’s financial situation at every point in time.
- Vice President of Finance
A vice president of finance bridges the gap between general staff and the very top “C-level” leadership. Typically, a VP of finance coordinates financial planning, debt management and budgeting. He or she may also advice on acceptable financial risk. Because the exact responsibilities of this job may vary from company to company—some placing more emphasis on accounting, others on planning for the future—a previous controller may or may not easily progress into a VP role.
- Chief Financial Officer
A chief financial officer is a business strategist and true partner to the CEO, using knowledge about the company’s financial situation to develop and achieve new visions and goals. Like a VP of finance, a CFO often has an accounting background or a CPA credential, but CFOs rarely come from controller ranks. A CFO must have the skills of a good salesperson, selling other senior leadership or outside investors on the company’s strategic plan. Even though a good CFO understands the nitty-gritty of accounting practices, he or she must be fundamentally a people person with excellent communication skills.
Depending on the size of a company, it may have all three of these levels of finance management, or may combine the positions into one or two roles. How are your company’s corporate finance careers structured? What do you think are the best corporate finance careers? Share in the comments.