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MBA, CPA or Neither for CFO and Controller Positions

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I have my thoughts on this but was curious what the group thought was better training to be CFO and/or controller? MBA, CPA or neither? I recognize they are two different positions requiring different skills so opinions on which is better for both would be great.

I am having a discussion with a collegue about this is the reason I am asking. Thanks in advance.


Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Director of Global Accounting
Company: Agrinos, Inc.
(Director of Global Accounting, Agrinos, Inc.) |

I'm an MBA, so when hiring a Controller I look to CPAs (or similar skill sets) to balance my strengths.

At a CFO level...either are good. Big4 experience is great, as is MBA experience at that level. A hands on CFO really should have an MBA for business-partnering value-add. In a less business-partnering oriented business, when things like international tax structure are key, a CFO *could* benefit from a CPA (but much of that is an accessible skill at larger companies).

Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

I think the person who fits best based upon the total person sum of experience and education without preconceived conditions.

Why lock out wholesale; groups of qualified applicants.

Tom Hoster
Title: CFO
Company: EndoGastric Solutions
(CFO, EndoGastric Solutions) |

Controllers absolutely need to understand accounting, and the place to get that training is following a CPA track. CFO's who aspire to be a business partner to the CEO and the senior management team should pursue an MBA. The ideal person has both, but you are unlikely to find that person because the two tracks require very different interests and skill sets. In my experience, Controller/CPA's love the process of producing financial statements and CFO/MBA's regard the financial statements as the beginning of a process, not the end. Take a Controller/CPA and force them to be a CFO? They would be miserable. Take a CFO and force them to close the books? They would be miserable. Best advice: decide which you like better and pursue it.

Gary Spencer
Title: Managing Partner
Company: Meon
(Managing Partner, Meon) |

I believe rounded training helps. Neither really helps. It is on the job training.


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