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5 Top Qualities To Look For in a CFO

Posted by Kanika Sinha

January 26, 2024    |     3-minute read (597 words)

The chief financial officer (CFO) is a critical executive at any company, no matter the size — whether it be a startup or a large corporation. They manage, control, and analyze the business’s financial activities. They are ultimately responsible for ensuring that the organization is financially sound and that its leadership makes informed decisions.

However, finding the right professional to fill this position can take time. Therefore, several small businesses and startups are using outsourced CFO services. 

But how do you pick from the vast network of talented CFOs? 

Knowing the critical skills and qualities that make an exemplary CFO helps you identify capable experts who can ensure continued profitability and measured mindful growth.

This article outlines five essential skills to look for when hiring a CFO for your small business.


1. Financial and analytic prowess

A CFO must have strong financial acumen to ensure the company’s financial health and viability.  At the same time, they should be financially forward-thinking. This entails taking a more holistic view of the financial environment, monitoring the company’s internal financial performance, and making reliable forecasts. Further, they should proactively analyze financial trends to look for opportunities for the company to grow and succeed.

2. Leadership and management skills

A CFO should possess excellent leadership and management skills to effectively lead a team of accounting and finance professionals. They should be able to manage and mentor teams to achieve high performance. Besides, they need to be able to motivate and inspire their team members to do the best possible job.

3. Cross-disciplinary strategic mind

They should have an intrinsic understanding of each department and their functioning within the organization. This entails conversing with other department heads to understand their budgeting needs and how they feel their departments contribute to the company’s future success. Cross-collaboration enables the CFO to garner as much information as possible from all parts of the business. That, in turn, encourages creativity, critical thinking, and new perspectives on problem-solving.

4. Adaptability and flexibility

Adaptability and flexibility are crucial skills of an effective CFO. A good CFO must be able to adapt to unforeseen challenges in the business environment.  Being flexible and adaptable facilitates navigating change more effectively and is an essential skill when making critical financial decisions. These skills are crucial for responding to regulatory changes or shifts in consumer demand. Further, being agile helps the CFO to devise strategic pivot plans and capitalize on new opportunities, making them an asset to the company.

5. Excellent communication skills

The CFO ensures that all internal and external stakeholders receive timely and accurate information. Hence, these financial leaders must possess excellent communication and articulation skills to tailor data and other financial information to their audiences. Further, being a clear communicator also aids in the following:

  • Cultivating and maintaining strong internal relationships in the organization.
  • Negotiating and handling disputes effectively.
  • Establishing trust with the stakeholders. 
  • Making the CFO more effective when pitching for investments and dealing with current shareholders, bankers, and lenders.

The final word

The role of a CFO is critical to the success of an organization. A financial leader who embodies the above traits can guide your company and team toward long-term financial success and stability.

However, not all companies need a full-time CFO on their payroll, especially in their initial phase. Your startup or small business can outsource a CFO with the right expertise and experience.

Want to know more about outsourcing CFO services? Early Growth’s FinOps services offer time with an experienced CFO to help you and your company make informed business decisions. Talk to an expert today. 


Kanika Sinha
Kanika Sinha

Kanika is an enthusiastic content writer who craves to push the boundaries and explore uncharted territories. With her exceptional writing skills and in-depth knowledge of business-to-business dynamics, she creates compelling narratives that help businesses achieve tangible ROI. When not hunched over the keyboard, you can find her sweating it out in the gym, or indulging in a marathon of adorable movies with her young son.

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