Best route to CFO

lionheart's picture
Rank: Orangutan | 320

If my ultimate goal is to become CFO, which is better? Going the traditional Big 4 audit route, getting a CPA, and then lateral to the finance division of another company or taking part in a rotational finance program (such as that of JP Morgan), getting a CPA (no audit work experience necessary), and either stay or lateral to another company (possibly after a top MBA)?

Comments (14)

Nov 15, 2008

I know someone whose CFO track was corporate development > top MBA program > BB associate > PE associate > CFO of portfolio company.

www.sharpeinvesting.com

Nov 16, 2008

I know the FMP type programs are a good track, since they are preparing you for management positions and for the most part want to retain you after the program ends. Graduates of the programs are looked upon highly, and I know a lot GE execs have gone through the FMP.

The CFO at the hedge fund I'm interning at started out at KPMG audit, worked at a F500 for a while, got CPA, and now CFO.

Nov 16, 2008

You probably aren't smart enough to pass the CPA if you think no audit/experience is necessary. Read any state board of accounting website and they clearly outline the details of their 150 hour education rule and mandatory of 1 year minimum of audit and assurance work experience.

As for what road to take its about what kind of CFO you want to be. CFO's have many types. Someone with a banking/development background is equally likely to be CFO of a company as someone from a traditional audit/CPA background. The difference is what kind of company and what phase of maturity the company is in. A start up looking to raise capital and IPO in a few years probably values the capital markets experience, where as a large mature manufacturing company may wish to stregnthen its reporting and control environment may favor a person out of the big 4. Its all about where you want to be CFO and to be good at whatever path you choose.

RBS is better than YOUR BS, and that's not saying much

Nov 16, 2008
IVY_CPA:

You probably aren't smart enough to pass the CPA if you think no audit/experience is necessary. Read any state board of accounting website and they clearly outline the details of their 150 hour education rule and mandatory of 1 year minimum of audit and assurance work experience.

As for what road to take its about what kind of CFO you want to be. CFO's have many types. Someone with a banking/development background is equally likely to be CFO of a company as someone from a traditional audit/CPA background. The difference is what kind of company and what phase of maturity the company is in. A start up looking to raise capital and IPO in a few years probably values the capital markets experience, where as a large mature manufacturing company may wish to stregnthen its reporting and control environment may favor a person out of the big 4. Its all about where you want to be CFO and to be good at whatever path you choose.

http://www.calcpa.org/content/licensure/requiremen... Read under the "auditing" section
"So now, neither pathway requires audit experience to obtain a CPA license."
There are other states that don't require auditing nor require 150 credits but I'm too lazy to post them. Please know your facts before making condescending remarks. Thanks.

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  • gimmeanswerspls
  •  Nov 16, 2008
IVY_CPA:

You probably aren't smart enough to pass the CPA if you think no audit/experience is necessary. Read any state board of accounting website and they clearly outline the details of their 150 hour education rule and mandatory of 1 year minimum of audit and assurance work experience.

As for what road to take its about what kind of CFO you want to be. CFO's have many types. Someone with a banking/development background is equally likely to be CFO of a company as someone from a traditional audit/CPA background. The difference is what kind of company and what phase of maturity the company is in. A start up looking to raise capital and IPO in a few years probably values the capital markets experience, where as a large mature manufacturing company may wish to stregnthen its reporting and control environment may favor a person out of the big 4. Its all about where you want to be CFO and to be good at whatever path you choose.

Apart from being a huge wise-ass, you're also wrong. Experience requirements for the CPA depend on the state you are being licensed in. I'm a licensed CPA and have worked in banking since I graduated. In addition, some states don't require the 150 hours either.

Here's a little tip: you can sit for the exam and become licensed in any state whose rules suit you. Once you're licensed, simply transfer the license into whatever state you are practicing.

As for becoming a CFO, go whichever route is going to make you the most relationships and give you the best experience - aka BANKING!

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Dec 30, 2016

Under 150 hour rule, no audit experience is necessary. CPA is difficult, but you can pass without experience in accounting. CFO Route - stay in a similar industry (~15 yrs exp. in x), two basic routes. 1. Accountant - Sr. - Asst. Controller - Controller - CFO 2. Finance Associate - Sr. - Manager of Finance - CFO. Also Treasury Manager is a plus.

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Nov 16, 2008

gimmeanswerspls:

one of the requirements was:
"One year of general accounting experience supervised by a CPA with an active license; and "

I've seen this in other states. Do they consider anything that involves financial statement analysis (banking or equity research) "general accounting experience as long as you're supervised by a CPA?

Thanks man.

  • gimmeanswerspls
  •  Nov 16, 2008

It all depends on the state. Certain states are very lenient on the type of work experience you need - in some states, you don't need work experience at all. In Colorado, you can use a post-graduate degree in lieu of work experience. It all depends on the state in which you are being licensed.

Nov 17, 2008

personally, i think you have better chances by going the Big4 route and staying until you make manager - 3 years or so, then MBA, then switch to corporate accounting and lateral to finance. Accounting is a must know and is very highly regarded, as are Big4 positions when starting your career. You will most likely switch jobs and companies many times before getting to that CFO position, and when making that transition the first time you'll have more options coming out of a Deloitte audit as opposed to some JPM rotational program in finance.

Nov 17, 2008
youngmoney:

personally, i think you have better chances by going the Big4 route and staying until you make manager - 3 years or so, then MBA, then switch to corporate accounting and lateral to finance. Accounting is a must know and is very highly regarded, as are Big4 positions when starting your career. You will most likely switch jobs and companies many times before getting to that CFO position, and when making that transition the first time you'll have more options coming out of a Deloitte audit as opposed to some JPM rotational program in finance.

You are the only person that speaks negatively about JP's rotational finance program. Why so?

I understand that Big4 is good experience, but I also think Big4 auditors are a dime a dozen. Also, the few CFOs I have talked to during the recruiting process didn't have any audit background. One moved up the ranks in the finance division, and the other started off in trading and switched to Finance later on.

    • 1
Nov 24, 2008
youngmoney:

personally, i think you have better chances by going the Big4 route and staying until you make manager - 3 years or so, then MBA, then switch to corporate accounting and lateral to finance. Accounting is a must know and is very highly regarded, as are Big4 positions when starting your career. You will most likely switch jobs and companies many times before getting to that CFO position, and when making that transition the first time you'll have more options coming out of a Deloitte audit as opposed to some JPM rotational program in finance.

1.) No one makes manager in 3 years..ever. Standard progression at PwC is 3 years to senior associate, 3 more to manager. Thats 6 years for those with mathematical deficencies.

2.) No one who attends top MBA programs takes an accounting position afterwords. Now if your talking about non-top 15 programs where the average salary is 70k, then you will have some. I would hope everyone is aiming for decent MBA programs as attending a shit program will close many doors for you.

3.) I would say the opportunities coming from Big 4 or a Finance rotational program would be fairly similar. It's more about how you perform on the job.

Everyone travels a different road to the top. My personal belief is in a diverse backround. For me that means Audit to transaction services, maybe corporate development, MBA maybe banking or consulting, and then probably a high level position in a company. I think if you've had at least 2 or 3 different experiences (IE Banking and Audit), you make a compelling arguement about why your fit to hold an executive position. I definately would not hire a big 4 senior manager or partner with 15 years doing audits as CFO because compliance is not the same as financial decision making.

Nov 17, 2008

My comment still stands. Colorado is an exception as it does not follow substantial equivalency. 47 states currently require or will require 150 hours in the near future. Also if you go to the State Board of Accounting website for California outlines that you need 500 hours of attest experience to become licensed. Its right after the part about being supervised under a licensed CPA. You may also want to read up on the difference between public and private attest work as there are very few functions (pretty much just internal audit) that count as attest work when you do not work at a public accounting firm.

RBS is better than YOUR BS, and that's not saying much

Nov 18, 2008
IVY_CPA:

My comment still stands. Colorado is an exception as it does not follow substantial equivalency. 47 states currently require or will require 150 hours in the near future. Also if you go to the State Board of Accounting website for California outlines that you need 500 hours of attest experience to become licensed. Its right after the part about being supervised under a licensed CPA. You may also want to read up on the difference between public and private attest work as there are very few functions (pretty much just internal audit) that count as attest work when you do not work at a public accounting firm.

Given that I'm not interested in auditing and just want the CPA for resume purposes, I don't need to have any attest (audit) experience to get a CPA license in Cali. The site says "you must have 500 hrs IF YOU WANT TO SIGN ATTEST REPORTS." It DOES NOT say that you need the 500 hrs to get a license.

In your previous post you said "Read ANY State Accounting Board requirements," implying that the rule applies to all states. This is simply false. Just admit the fact that you were wrong and stop acting like a hardheaded fool.

Nov 24, 2008
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