what is a CFO?

A CFO is an executive who manages a company's finances. In this upper management role, you're in charge of almost every financial decision the business makes. In addition, you track expenses and profits and create the company's entire financial strategy. The choices you make affect everything from product creation to marketing.

CFO is a high-level job position. As the highest-ranking financial employee, you report directly to the chief executive officer (CEO). Depending on how your company structures upper management, you might also spend time interacting with the board of directors.

Being a CFO typically means that you manage an entire team of employees. Accountants, financial managers and other professionals in the financial department report to you. If you enjoy taking on leadership roles, this job is for you.

Aside from supervisory and leadership roles, you provide strategic advice to the company's executives. You prepare the company's financial budgets and forecasting and assist in long-term financial planning. Hence, you require knowledge of financial planning, financial reporting standards and tax regulations in Australia.

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average CFO salary

The average remuneration package of a CFO in Australia is $210,000 per year. Your salary expectations depend on diverse factors, from experience to company size and the industry. When you are joining the role, you start with a salary of $200,000 annually. When you have many years of experience, your earnings increase gradually and take home over $220,000 annually.

what factors affect the salary of a CFO?

Your salary as a CFO in Australia fluctuates based on the industry you work in and the company size. When you work in a large or multinational corporation with branches in various countries, your earnings are higher than CFOs working in smaller companies. For instance, in a large mining company, you control substantial financial resources. The complexity of your duties and the responsibility associated with the role warrants higher remuneration packages. In a smaller company, you have fewer responsibilities since you oversee a few branches.

The location also influences your earnings. Working in metro areas improves your remuneration prospects due to the high demand for the role. Besides, big companies are located in metro areas, and the high demand provides competitive salaries. In smaller cities, the demand for CFOs could be lower, reducing your salary prospects.

Want to know what you will earn as a CFO? Check out what you are worth with our salary checker.


types of CFOs

Some types of CFOs include start-up CFOs, growth CFOs or public CFOs. Start-up CFOs work for small companies that are just starting. They mainly focus on fundraising and may choose to get paid with stock options.

Growth CFOs work at established, mid-sized companies and help them expand the company further. Turnaround CFOs help struggling companies with things like filing for bankruptcy or making drastic budget cuts.

Acquisition CFOs help companies through mergers and sales. They specialise in handling transactions and easing transitions. On the other hand, public CFOs are high-earners who handle massive businesses and are responsible for vast sums of money in publicly traded companies.

woman in a business attire walking
woman in a business attire walking

working as a CFO

What's it like to be a CFO? The day-to-day job can vary slightly, but you always focus on helping a company achieve its financial goals. This in-depth guide will help you learn more about working as a CFO.


education and skills

The minimum qualification for becoming a CFO in Australia is a bachelor's degree. Useful degree courses include business management, finance, economics and accounting. Many employers prefer a master of business administration due to the seniority of the role.

Once you have completed the degree courses, consider pursuing certifications relevant to your field, such as Chartered Financial Analyst and Certified Practising Accountants Australia. You can also obtain Certified Public Accountant status or Chartered Accountant designation from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand.

Aside from certifications, you require extensive work experience. Start with accounting or finance roles to build your skills. For instance, you can work your way up from an accountant to a finance manager or controller before becoming a CFO.

CFO skills and competencies

To do well as a CFO, you need these essential skills:

  • interpersonal communication: CFOs should be persuasive, effective communicators who share information accurately and clearly with internal and external stakeholders.
  • leadership: the best CFOs are comfortable taking on a leadership position. You use your leadership qualities as you delegate duties to others and motivate the team to get the best work out of them.
  • proficiency in accounting: being proficient in creating and managing budgets is essential to forecasting your company’s financial future. You use your financial acumen as you analyse data trends, develop strategies and make decisions.
  • business acumen: it's crucial to understand how a business works. You often use your expertise in business economic trends when creating budgets and developing strategies to reach financial goals.
  • ethical judgment: when creating financial reports and strategies, ethical decision-making is as important as understanding accounting principles. It is also important to stay current on regulations to ensure your company complies with financial legal requirements.
  • strategic thinking: for a CFO, strategic thinking comes into play daily as you seek to achieve long-term financial goals. You strategically think while you analyse KPIs, negotiate with vendors, identify ways to lower risk, and more.
  • crisis management: when inevitable crises or issues develop, you use your management skills to find solutions. It’s also important to be flexible to changing business landscapes since you manage unexpected challenges.

FAQs about working as a CFO

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a CFO.

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