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Education path to become a good CFO?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I've been working for my parents in the home health care business for 2 years after graduating as a BA in political science. I originally intended to go into law, but learning about it has this way of discouraging its practice, at least for me.

So I've been taking some accounting classes to work my way into a more administrative/CFO role for another branch which we are developing. What I wanted was some feedback/opinions on what you believe would help me prepare for the responsibilities ahead.

My plan so far (Keep in mind, I did not take accounting/business classes in college):

Take more accounting/business classes/ post-bach and get my CPA
Go to a FEMBA program like UCLA or UCI

I was also considering an MHA, Masters in Health Administration. Is anyone knowledgeable on the subject that can offer some advice on my plan?
post #2 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltricks View Post
I've been working for my parents in the home health care business for 2 years after graduating as a BA in political science. I originally intended to go into law, but learning about it has this way of discouraging its practice, at least for me.

So I've been taking some accounting classes to work my way into a more administrative/CFO role for another branch which we are developing. What I wanted was some feedback/opinions on what you believe would help me prepare for the responsibilities ahead.

My plan so far (Keep in mind, I did not take accounting/business classes in college):

Take more accounting/business classes/ post-bach and get my CPA
Go to a FEMBA program like UCLA or UCI

I was also considering an MHA, Masters in Health Administration. Is anyone knowledgeable on the subject that can offer some advice on my plan?

hmm...... I would be surprised if you could be a "good" CFO without being an accountant. but, and I mean no offense, but if you are talking about running a family home healthcare business, you don't really need to be a "good" CFO, you need to be an ok CFO.

that said, a very good friend of mine did his undergraduate degree in accounting, and then did his master's in hospital managment, and is now the CFO of a huge corporation.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
I think the biggest question is if I should get an MBA, MHA, or something else, assuming I get my CPA
post #4 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post
hmm...... I would be surprised if you could be a "good" CFO without being an accountant. but, and I mean no offense, but if you are talking about running a family home healthcare business, you don't really need to be a "good" CFO, you need to be an ok CFO.

that said, a very good friend of mine did his undergraduate degree in accounting, and then did his master's in hospital managment, and is now the CFO of a huge corporation.

The OP does say he'll get his CPA, so there will be at least two years of in-the-trenches public accounting experience.

As for whether or not you need to be an accountant to be a good CFO, I think it depends a lot on organizational size. Definitely true for small companies, but once you get to $100M+ in revenue, there should be a very strong accounting team (and controller) in place and the accounting nuts and bolts will be less important.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tj100 View Post
The OP does say he'll get his CPA, so there will be at least two years of in-the-trenches public accounting experience. As for whether or not you need to be an accountant to be a good CFO, I think it depends a lot on organizational size. Definitely true for small companies, but once you get to $100M+ in revenue, there should be a very strong accounting team (and controller) in place and the accounting nuts and bolts will be less important.
By the time that I will be taking the CFO reins(5-7 years), we'd be edging probably be edging up on $70-$80 million in revenue, depending on how well this new branch does. I'm just concerned about the skillset that I should be developing in order to be good at my job and help the company grow/be more profitable.
post #6 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltricks View Post
By the time that I will be taking the CFO reins(5-7 years), we'd be edging probably be edging up on $70-$80 million in revenue, depending on how well this new branch does. I'm just concerned about the skillset that I should be developing in order to be good at my job and help the company grow/be more profitable.

Personally, if you're staying with your family company, I would skip the CPA and do an MBA instead. I'd definitely take some accounting classes so you understand debits and credits, but the CPA route is sort of a wasted two years.
post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by tj100 View Post
Personally, if you're staying with your family company, I would skip the CPA and do an MBA instead. I'd definitely take some accounting classes so you understand debits and credits, but the CPA route is sort of a wasted two years.

It's far from a waste.

Getting to know how professional firms do things right so one can copy it for their family business would be very valuable.
post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fraiche View Post
It's far from a waste.

Getting to know how professional firms do things right so one can copy it for their family business would be very valuable.

I would agree if this were true, but what you're going to see is the audit side of the house of a bunch of companies. If you're only doing it to get the designation (i.e. the bare minimum), you'll spend two years reconciling contracts to revenue schedules and that's about it.

And if you're comfortable with a long-term job, the designation doesn't really do anything for you anyway.
post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltricks View Post
I think the biggest question is if I should get an MBA, MHA, or something else, assuming I get my CPA

my uncle, who is a multi-millionare and has been a CFO and CEO of some very large and successful companies and then of his own, told me i dont need the MBA but i do need the CPA. and i am on a similar career path to yours minus the family business.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saltricks View Post
By the time that I will be taking the CFO reins(5-7 years), we'd be edging probably be edging up on $70-$80 million in revenue, depending on how well this new branch does. I'm just concerned about the skillset that I should be developing in order to be good at my job and help the company grow/be more profitable.

I am in your exact same position right now. I did Poli Sci undergrad and decided against law school. I have been working as an accounting assistant (day to day a/p & a/r, commissions type of work) for the past 2.5 years. I didn't take any accounting classes in college but have always been pretty good at math. My boss is now sending me to get my MBA with the notion that I will be the operations manager (the equivalent of CFO for us since we don't have executive officer titles at my company) when I graduate.

I can't comment on CPA vs MBA but just doing the grunt accounting work for several years has given me enough knowledge about finances to feel comfortable overseeing the day-to-day operations. I may be in a unique situation but I think an MBA is going to expand on what I know about accounting into more big picture knowledge which will help my company maintain and grow. Just some ramblings but I think if you want to be a good CFO you may want to get some work experience with your payables and receivables so you have that base knowledge to build off.
post #11 of 15
If you are the CFO of a company thats pulling in 70-80 million, actual number crunching is less important than being able to interpret the results of the numbers.

That being said, just working your ass off for your parents company will be better than schooling.
post #12 of 15
I think doing the CPA is a good idea. You're going to be faced with so much regulatory stuff and CPA is probably the best way to get into the details of analysis you will need to know when you want a capital event and don't want to get screwed by a pack of sharky banker types (like me) that will offer you 20% of what your business is worth and help you feel like a rock star when you get 25%. Then we'll invest your new stack of cash for you for a fee!

Incidentally, I have an MBA from UCLA. Awesome program and you could do something like that, but I would recommend the CPA first and work for a couple more years, then do the EMBA program (in 2 years, not 3). You are not looking to network or career switch, which is why 90% of your peers will be there in FEMBA or MBA programs.

Also, if your parents are up for it, you could go work for a middle market investment banking firm specializing in health care. That would also put you through your paces, which is pretty much what you want when you are young.
post #13 of 15
Above recs to leave a fast growing family business to do whatever (MBA, public accounting???) seem just bizarre. Maybe do an EMBA to pick up some stuff. There are many routes to professionalizing a family company.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I was thinking of a HCEMBA (health care executive mba) which is an EMBA with a spec in health care. But the average age of someone in that program is 47..., and my classmates would be doctors, nurses, physical therapists, etc...

Can anyone specify any reaons why a EMBA > FEMBA besides the time? Wouldn't an EMBA be more difficult for me to enter?
post #15 of 15
if you actually know what a EMBA is, its an executive MBA, aimed at people with years of practical experience under their belt, with little to take courses.

I still wonder how much value a MBA does for someone with no experience, and without some background to build networking connections.

CPA, MBA are all crap, as it doesn't teach, but gives credibility that you have a degree.
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