Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: CFO


Quick Summary of CFO

An acronym for the Chief Financial Officer, who is the head accountant of a company. A CFO manages anything that has to do with the company’s finances.

What is the dictionary definition of CFO?

Dictionary Definition

The chief financial officer (CFO) is the officer of a company that has primary responsibility for managing the company’s finances, including financial planning, management of financial risks, record-keeping, and financial reporting.

CFO, or Chief Financial Officer, is a senior corporate officer with full financial authority. In general terms, the main responsibility of a CFO is to oversee the financial appropriations and expenditures of an organization. Hence, the CFO is in charge of disseminating financial data, directing budget and spending, as well as monitoring a number of other financial activities. A CFO is also required to frequently report to the board of directors on the overall financial condition of the company. Additionally, a CFO is charged with ensuring financial transparency with respect to both the shareholders and regulatory boards, such as the SEC. In many corporations, a CFO is routinely referred to as senior vice president. A CFO is often considered the second most notable management figure, next to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Thus, many investors consider the professional track record of a CFO, as well as his or her integrity and conduct.

Full Definition of CFO

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of a company or public agency is the corporate officer primarily responsible for managing the financial risks of the business or agency. This officer is also responsible for financial planning and record-keeping, as well as financial reporting to higher management. (In recent years, however, the role has expanded to encompass communicating financial performance and forecasts to the analyst community.) The title is equivalent to finance director, commonly seen in the United Kingdom. The CFO typically reports to the Chief Executive Officer, and is frequently a member of the board of directors.


A UK Finance Director is commonly a Chartered Accountant (CA/ACA) or Chartered Certified Accountant (ACCA/FCCA) or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (ACMA/FCMA), and in several financially well-developed countries or regions including Hong Kong, many finance directors are qualified accountants. It has, however, become commonplace for non-accountants to become CFOs in the United States. Indeed, many CFOs have an MBA but no qualified accountancy qualification such as CPA. This has been criticised in some quarters as a contributory factor to the wave of accounting scandals seen in the US in 2002. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 aims to address this by requiring at least one member of the company’s Audit Committee to hold an accounting or finance qualification. The act makes it more likely, therefore, that the US business world will see a trend towards Chief Financial Officers possessing a U.S. accountancy qualification – CPA and/or overseas accountancy qualification (i.e. ACCA/CA).

If the role of CFO is compared with that of CEO, i.e. as strategic business partner and with obligation of statutory duties under SEC and Sarbanes-Oxley Act, both can be seen as distinct and equal-ranking top executive posts.

Many CFOs without formal credentials still have a thorough understanding of finance and a knowledge of problem-solving through quantification.

CFO Role In Public Agencies

Public agencies and government organizations throughout the world have financial directors and other leading officers responsible for financial management within their organizations. Many are equivalent in the scope of their responsibilities to CFOs.

United States

The United States federal government has seen a trend in recent years to incorporate more elements of business-sector practices in its management approaches, including the use of the CFO position (alongside, for example, increased use of the CIO title within public agencies).

The Chief Financial Officers Act (or CFO Act) was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. For each of 23 federal agencies, the position of chief financial officer was created. Since that time, federal efforts have been intended to improve the government’s financial management and develop standards of financial performance and disclosure.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) holds primary responsibility for financial management standardization and improvement. Within OMB, the Deputy Director for Management is the chief official responsible for financial management in the United States Government; the position was established by the CFO Act.

The Office of Federal Financial Management (OFFM) is specifically charged with overseeing financial management matters, establishing financial management policies and requirements, and monitoring the establishment and operation of federal financial management systems. OFFM is led by a Controller.

The CFO Act also established the CFO Council, consisting of the CFOs and Deputy CFOs of the largest federal agencies and senior officials of OMB and Treasury. Its mandate is to work collaboratively to improve financial management in the U.S. government and “advise and coordinate the activities of the agencies of its members” in the areas of financial management and accountability. The Council is led by the Deputy Director for Management of OMB; members are: the Controller of OFFM, the Fiscal Assistant Secretary of Treasury, and the CFOs of 23 large and significant federal agencies.

OMB Circular A-123 (issued 21 December 2004) defines the management responsibilities for internal financial controls in federal agencies and addressed to all federal CFOs, CIOs, and Program Managers. The circular is a re-examination of the existing internal control requirements for federal agencies and was initiated in light of the new internal control requirements for publicly-traded companies contained in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.


While “significant progress” in improving federal financial management has reportedly been made since the federal government began preparing consolidated financial statements, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that “major impediments continue to prevent [GAO] from rendering an opinion.” In December 2006, the GAO announced that for the 10th consecutive year, the GAO was prevented from expressing an opinion on the consolidated financial statements of the government due to a number of material weaknesses related to financial systems, fundamental recordkeeping, and financial reporting. done By, Mr. Ivram Ibrahim

At the same time, in calendar year 2007, the CFOC announced that for the second consecutive year, every major federal agency completed its Performance and Accountability Report just 45 days after the end of the fiscal year (2006).

Examples of CFO in a sentence

The CFO is busy this month, working on the annual company audit.
While a CFO may not directly supervise people in the accounting department who handle the accounts receivable, it is the CFO’s responsibility to keep an eye on all financial transactions.

Cite Term

To help you cite our definitions in your bibliography, here is the proper citation layout for the three major formatting styles, with all of the relevant information filled in.

Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
CFO. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd.
August 08, 2022
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
CFO. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: August 08, 2022).
American Psychological Association (APA):
CFO. Retrieved August 08, 2022
, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for CFO are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 18th April, 2020 | 0 Views.