Venture Capital Chief Financial Officers
Education and Training Requirements
Key classes for aspiring CFOs include accounting, business, economics, mathematics, statistics, and computer science (especially database management). English and speech classes are also recommended since chief financial officers frequently write reports, give presentations, and meet with colleagues. Other useful courses include social studies, government, science, and foreign language.
You’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in finance, accounting, economics, or business administration to work as a chief financial officer. If you earn a degree in business administration, you should also minor or double major in accounting or a related field. Many venture capital partners require applicants to have a master’s degree in business or accounting.
AACSB International accredits colleges and universities that offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in accounting and business. Visit https://www.aacsb.edu/accreditation/accredited-schools for a list of accredited programs. Also look for education resources at https://www.thiswaytocpa.com/education.
Other Education or Training
Continuing education classes, workshops, seminars, and webinars are provided by accounting and finance associations at the national, state, and local levels. The Association of Financial Professionals, for example, provides seminars and webinars on financial risk management, advanced financial statements and credit analysis, cost leadership, and cash flow forecasting. The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants offers accounting, finance, business, and skill development (on leadership, communication, negotiation, etc.) courses. It’s CFO of the Future master course features the following one-day workshops: Finance Leadership, Strategic Management, Cost and Profitability Analysis, Flexible Planning and Rolling Forecasts, and Best Practice Measurement and Reporting. Other opportunities are provided by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, CFA Institute, Financial Executives International, Institute of Internal Auditors, Institute of Management Accountants, and the National Venture Capital Association.
Several universities and organizations provide classes on venture capital deal structure, terms, due diligence, and other topics, including:
- Venture Capital Institute: https://www.vcinstitute.org
- University of Michigan Center for Venture Capital and Private Equity Finance: http://zli.umich.edu/about-zell-lurie/center-vcpe
Certificate programs allow participants to build their skills in a particular practice area. They typically last less than two years, and more than 50 percent take less than a year to finish. Online and in-person options are usually available. Earning a certificate comes in handy if you need additional information about a field that is not covered in detail by the classes in your degree program. For example, you might pursue a certificate in business management if your major was in accounting or finance to make yourself a better job candidate.
Certificates are offered by accounting and finance associations such as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (business accounting), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (international auditing and international financial reporting), and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (International Financial Reporting Standards). Colleges and universities offer certificates in areas such as accounting, finance, auditing, and business management.
Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements
Certification or Licensing
Becoming certified helps you to demonstrate to potential employers that you’ve met the highest standards established by your industry. It’s also a good way to keep your skills up to date because most certifications need to be renewed by completing continuing education classes and webinars. Here are some of the most-popular certifications:
- accredited business accountant/advisor, accredited tax preparer, accredited tax advisor (Accreditation Council for Accountancy and Taxation)
- certification in control self-assessment, certified financial services auditor, certification in risk management assurance (Institute of Internal Auditors)
- certified financial manager, certified management accountant (Institute of Management Accountants)
- certified internal auditor (Institute of Internal Auditors)
- chartered global management accountant (a joint venture of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants)
- certified treasury professional, certified corporate financial planning and analysis professional (Association of Financial Professionals)
Many CFOs earn the certified public accountant (CPA) designation. The Uniform CPA Examination, which is administered by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, is used by all states.
Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits
A minimum of 10 years of experience in lower-level accounting and finance positions is required to become a chief financial officer.
Key personality traits for CFOs include strong communication, interpersonal, organizational, and time-management skills; leadership ability; an analytical and detail-oriented personality; strong ethics; the ability to multitask and change gears as project requirements evolve; and a willingness to continue to learn throughout their careers. Chief financial officers must be familiar with venture capital funding accounting rules, reporting practices, and valuation methodology; have experience in project/deal financing; and be proficient in the use financial-related software and databases such as Microsoft Dynamics Great Plains, Oracle PeopleSoft, and SAP; data management software such as Microsoft Excel; and presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint.