CAO vs. CFO – which is the position for you?

Group Interview Tips

For most individuals working in finance careers or in accounting jobs, the preferred endgame is easy to identify: a position as a chief officer within a company. However, in both start-ups and large corporations, there are a number of officer or vice president positions available to hardworking individuals. Earning an interview for such positions can take years – but the path to your dream job will be accomplished much easier if you know which route to take.

For professionals working in the accounting side of the financial field, there will eventually be a decision they need to make: whether they'd like to aim for a position as a chief financial officer, or if they'd like to work toward a position as their company's chief accounting officer. While these positions appear to have a high amount of overlap in regards to the duties they must complete, they're both individual jobs with varied responsibilities. The distinction between CFOs and CAOs is huge, but unfortunately, most professionals are unaware of the differences. 

We all know about what the all-powerful CEO's do – chief executives are the highest ranking corporate officers in charge of managing organizations and businesses. But what do chief financial officers and chief accounting officers do as part of their daily workload? What are the differences between the two positions? And which one may be right for you in the future? Study the statistics and information below, and decide for yourself – after all, earning a chance at your dream job is much easier when you know what your dream job is.

Chief Financial Officer
In most corporations, the CFO is the senior finance executive, in charge of any of the firm's economic functions. This can comprise budgeting, taxes, insurance records, and even issues that crop up with the company's treasury. The chief financial officer deals with the "macro" side of a businesses finances, focusing on the overall picture. They're also responsible for making sure that the ideas, concepts, and future plans crafted by a companies executives are properly passed down to lower-level financiers and employees.

In short, the chief financial officer is responsible for the monetary aspect of the business' entire operation. If there is ever a question regarding costs, budgets, treasury duties, or even on economic strategies and forecasts for the future, then it's the CFO's job to answer it. 

Chief Accounting Officer
If the CFO is the vice president of finance, answering only to the company president, then the CAO is the vice president of accounting. As such, their responsibilities mainly have to do with keeping the company records – ensuring that all ledger accounts, expense statements, and cost control policies are in place, known across the company line, and are working effectively. The CAO is focused more on the day-to-day aspects of the business' costs than the CFO is, and they're paid well for their services – according to, the average chief accounting officer earns an annual average of $137,000. 

Major businesses need professionals watching over each individual aspect of their service – resulting in the seemingly overlapping positions of chief financial officer and chief accounting officer. However, workers in each position help their employers in integral, business-altering ways. If you want to take a major hand in aiding your place of business, you are searching for a higher paying position than you hold currently, or you are simply deliberating what position to accept from a new start-up, then you best study the differences between CFO's, CAO's, and all other chief executive positions – and determine which one is right for you.