The CFO frequently holds a degree in accounting, is or was a CPA, and likely holds a graduate degree in finance. While the CFO is not the company’s bookkeeper, it is safe to say that the CFO is the architect of the financial accounting system and is often its primary user. With these credentials the CFO is in an excellent position to select, evaluate and develop the financial accounting resources of the business.
This includes identifying and implementing appropriate back-end accounting and ERP solutions, assessing roles and functions, such as payroll, that could be economically outsourced, and creating system controls to ensure regulatory compliance. All of these steps have become business drivers and necessary evils in an ever-changing environment where auditor and regulator opinions are now discussed as frequently as owner interests and tax mitigation.
No one person can know all these morphing details, but you do need to have someone capable of coordinating appropriate specialists to ensure compliance, consistency, and financial reliability. The CFO has to partner with these external parties as a financial expert and to both prepare GAAP compliant external reporting and internal managerial accounting reports that ensure the best interests of the firm are pursued.