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Finance executives manage income, expenses, investments and other money transactions so that their organizations remain profitable. About one-third of them work for finance and insurance companies, while other big employers include scientific and technical services, manufacturing and government. Executives typically work full-time, although long hours are common.
If it has to do with money, then it has to do with finance executives, who oversee the company cash. They produce and analyze financial reports such as cash-flow statements and profit projections, determine ways to improve financial performance, and ensure that their organizations meet all applicable standards, regulations and laws. They meet frequently with department heads to help with budgeting and tax planning, and to offer ways to increase profits while cutting costs. They also examine economic trends and how competitors are doing to look for ways to expand into new opportunities.
The duties of finance executives differ according to their job titles. Treasurers and finance officers take charge of budgets and develop investment strategies to increase the working capital for expansion and acquisitions. Reports about an organization’s finances fall under controllers, who meet all government regulations regarding periodic documentation. Credit managers handle past-due accounts and loan extensions, while cash managers deal with money that flows through the company as income and expenses. Risk managers determine how to minimize financial loss and insurance managers look for policies to compensate for financial problems, such as a fire, lawsuit or increases in disability payments.
In small companies, a finance executive may work alone. In larger enterprises, they frequently manage accountants, finance clerks and other subordinates. They remain responsible for filling financial professional positions throughout the company by posting job notices, interviewing candidates and hiring prospects. They assign tasks and schedules, train and motivate subordinates, and monitor their progress. Employees who perform well can receive raises and promotions. Those who do poorly risk termination. Finance executives may also attach employees to specific departments to help solve financial problems.
Finance executives typically need a bachelor’s degree, and at higher levels, many also have master’s degrees. Acceptable majors include finance, economics, accounting or business administration. Executives also need at least five years of experience in finance positions that show increasing responsibility, such as accountant, auditor, loan officer or financial agent. Voluntary certification can enhance job possibilities. The CFA Institute awards the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, which requires at minimum a bachelor’s degree, at least four years of professional experience and passing three exams. Successful executives may advance all the way to chief financial officer, who oversees finances for entire corporations.
Aurelio Locsin has been writing professionally since 1982. He published his first book in 1996 and is a frequent contributor to many online publications, specializing in consumer, business and technical topics. Locsin holds a Bachelor of Arts in scientific and technical communications from the University of Washington.