CEO vs. CFO: Who Moves the Financial Needle in a Business

From the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer to the Chief Technology Officer and beyond, there are nearly a dozen different executive-level titles currently being used among corporations around the world. Two of the most important individuals on the executive level are the CEO and the CFO for a variety of different reasons. Who moves the financial needle in the business often depends on the exact duties and responsibilities of each individual. In many situations, their duties will overlap.

The Responsibilities of a CEO

Also known as the Chief Executive Officer, the CEO’s main responsibility is to drive an organization towards its goals while adhering to its corporate mission and values.

Some basic day-to-day responsibilities include:

  1. Raising funds from new investors.
  2. Making presentations at investor meetings.
  3. Analyzing current market trends and approving new products or services to be sold under the company name.
  4. Makes high level policy decisions that affect the overall status of the company.
  5. Conducts high-value interviews, meetings and any other form of communication with the press and any official entity.

In most cases, the duties of the CEO are dictated by the board of directors, and can be very involved or very minimal as they see fit.

The Responsibilities of a CFO

Also known as the Chief Financial Officer, the CFO acts as the top financial individual of the company. In most cases, the CFO is responsible for a variety of financial-related departments, including accounting, budgeting, auditing, compliance and more.

Some of the basic day-to-day tasks for the CFO include:

  1. Makes decisions that drive the company toward meeting financial goals.
  2. Ensures compliance with all federal and local financial laws.
  3. Reviews and analyzes current market trends and company forecasts.
  4. Performs cost benefit analysis on all major business decisions.

The CFO reports to the CEO and the board of directors. Like the CEO, the CFO may also sit on the board of directors.

Who Moves the Financial Needle?

Company goals and its mission are almost always financially driven. The bottom line for any corporation is to make money, and corporate law dictates that every decision made at the executive level must be in the best financial interests of the organization as a whole.

While a CFO does have some role in driving financial decisions because he or she determines if each specific plan will benefit the company through extensive analysis, the CEO is ultimately the one who moves the financial needle in a business. He or she will create policy and drive results based on which plan is determined to generate the greatest profit.

Gennady Barsky is a global real estate entrepreneur who hails from New York City.

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