FI to CFO Career Path

Preamble

Much work has been done over the past several years to professionalize and support the financial management community across the Government of Canada. Key stakeholders and partners have worked together to develop guides and guidelines that align the education, knowledge and experience requirements of financial management professionals with the needs, priorities and expectations of senior public sector leaders as they pertain to stewardship and comptrollership responsibilities in government.

In 2006, the Deputy Chief Financial Officer (DCFO) Council, an independent council of DCFOs, recognized the need for skilled, capable and sustainable financial officer (FI) capacity to support the next generation of public service leaders. To help meet this need, the Council introduced the FI to CFO (Chief Financial Officer) Career Path, with the following objectives:

  • Identify the skills and competencies needed by a financial officer who aspires to become a CFO;
  • Serve as a guide for financial officers and leaders in planning their career;

The FI to CFO Career Path is not a statement of policy; it was established as guidance on the part of the DCFO community.

In 2009, the Treasury Board issued the Policy on Financial Management Governance and the Guideline on Chief Financial Officer Qualifications. The policy established the roles and responsibilities of key stakeholders in relation to financial management of public resources. The guideline supports the policy by establishing the qualifications for financial management executives to fulfill the role of CFOs. CFOs and DCFOs are required to have an appropriate combination of education, professional qualifications, experience and competencies in order to fulfill their duties. In all but the smallest departments, the guideline expects that, between the CFO and the DCFO, at least one possesses an accounting designation.

In 2012, the Office of the Comptroller General (OCG) established a CFO succession planning and talent management initiative to help departments and communities on two fronts: first, to identify immediate succession pressures and develop workable short-term responses; and second, to explore a business model for sustainable CFO capacity that will develop succession planning and talent management strategies. The objective of this initiative is to ensure a pool of current and future individuals who are capable of fulfilling the CFO role. The FI to CFO Career Path can be used to align individual career paths toward a future CFO position.

Deputy heads are responsible for establishing a sound financial management governance structure within their departments that fosters prudent stewardship of public resources in delivering the mandate of their organizations. They are also responsible for ensuring that their employees have the knowledge, skills and competencies to do their work and that measures are taken to strengthen organizational leadership. Tools and resources such as the FI to CFO Career Path, the Guideline on Chief Financial Officer Qualifications and the FI Competency Dictionary all serve to support deputy heads in achieving their mandate. It should be noted that deputy heads have the authority to determine the requirements for individual positions, which may differ from the requirements identified in the FI to CFO Career Path.

Revitalized FI to CFO Career Path

In 2012, the CG, in collaboration with the DCFO Council, developed a revitalized model of the FI to CFO Career Path that takes into consideration the career path of both the financial officer and financial management executive communities. The revitalized career path incorporates the elements of the recently developed FI competency profiles, the FI core curriculum and the Guideline on Chief Financial Officer Qualifications.

The FI to CFO Career Path helps professionals in the financial management field map out their career objectives and goals against various criteria. While the focus of the career path is on reaching a CFO position, it can also be used for many other career paths within the field, such as senior financial officer or financial management executive roles.

The model presupposes a career path for an individual who enters the FI category directly from his or her post-secondary studies. Therefore, for individuals who enter the financial management community at levels other than the FI-01 with experience in other settings, the career path may need to be modified.

This career path provides a solid foundation on which to assess career opportunities in line with career goals and aspirations by allowing individuals to evaluate opportunities against elements such as required experience, knowledge and competencies, and by identifying whether the time spent in a given activity will provide the desired outcome.

The FI to CFO Career Path is divided into three parts: foundational requirements, diversity of experience and competencies.

Foundational requirements deal with such criteria as years at level, education, professional accreditation and bilingual capacity:

Years at level

refers to the time spent at a given level and forms the basis of an individual's work experience. Each level presents unique opportunities and challenges, demonstrated by a progressive scale of knowledge (depth and breadth), scope of influence, and associated responsibilities and accountabilities. The years at level criterion serves as a guide only and will depend on an individual's competency development and career objectives.

Education

refers to the academic knowledge required to do the job based on the FI qualification standards.

Professional accreditation

refers to third-party certification. FI is a professional category and, as such, a financial officer is looked upon as a strategic partner in the decision-making process. Financial officers are perceived to have the knowledge, skills and competencies required to properly carry out their legal and fiduciary responsibilities.

Bilingual capacity

refers to an individual's ability to communicate in his or her second official language, be it French or English.

Diversity of experience relates to both functional experience and breadth of experience:

Functional experience

refers to technical experience in the given areas of financial management and its importance to the development of future senior leaders (e.g., CFOs). The experience should encompass a complete budgetary and/or management cycle to ensure that financial management professionals experience the full range of activities and are exposed to all the intricacies of the process.

Breadth of experience

refers to the work environment (small, medium or large department); the organization's mandate (scientific, social, security, economic); the complexity of the work; and different work perspectives, such as program and corporate service delivery, regional operations and central agency roles.

Diversity in both functional experience and breadth of experience is essential to the professional development of future CFOs. Financial officers should focus on obtaining this experience throughout their careers.

Competencies help financial management professionals gauge their proficiency in demonstrating specific behaviours critical to the execution of their work. The CG has created tools such as competencies to fulfill its mandate to maintain and build a vibrant and professional financial management community:

  • Competencies are the behaviours demonstrated by the incumbent at varying degrees of proficiency and are based on the requirements of the role within the organization.
  • The competencies identified within the FI to CFO Career Path for the FI Group are based on the FI Competency Dictionary and include the Key Leadership Competencies developed by the Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer (OCHRO). The proficiency level for the FI competencies begins at the employee level (FI-01) and progresses to the director level (FI-04). The Key Leadership Competencies also provide examples of expected behaviours up to the deputy minister level.
  • These behaviours are observable and measurable and can be assessed and validated by third parties. Competencies introduce the notion of a common language or understanding and are used in recruitment, staffing, learning and development, career management and performance evaluation.

The use of competencies as part of a career management strategy supports financial management professionals to better articulate expectations, demonstrate sought-after behaviours, and seek practical work experiences in line with career goals and objectives. Competency development in both functional and behavioural areas is critical to career success and should be a priority as early as the FI-01 level.

Defining the CFO role

In 2012, the CG defined the role of the CFO in the context of the federal public service, using as a base the 2010 Queen's University study Moving From CA to CFO: A Competency Framework Study, which defines four distinct roles performed by CFOs. The definition of the CFO's role was then customized to align with the Treasury Board Policy on Financial Management Governance and the public service Key Leadership Competencies. It serves as a framework to capture the CFO's various roles and key activities:

Steward role:

The steward is oriented toward financial information quality and control rationalization.

Operator role:

The operator is oriented toward best practices for the entire finance function.

Catalyst role:

The catalyst is oriented toward best practices for the entire organization and champions and leads organizational change.

Strategist role:

The strategist is oriented toward long-term, strategic issues and is outwardly directed.

The technical competencies necessary for the steward and operator roles are normally developed at the FI-01 to FI-04 levels. The behavioural competencies embedded in the catalyst and strategist roles are key to success from the FI-04 to senior financial management executive levels.

Using the FI to CFO Career Path

The FI to CFO Career Path is not meant to be a “one size fits all” solution to career management. Each career is individual. However, this path serves as a guide to career planning in the financial management community.

Career planning is the responsibility of each individual and should be based on identified career goals and objectives. There are many other tools available to the financial management community for other career planning exercises such as coaching, mentoring, and learning and developmental opportunities.

It is suggested that the FI to CFO Career Path be read in conjunction with the individual FI-level welcome pages and learning maps found on the Financial Management Community GCpedia site. Financial officers will find in these tools additional information to help them interpret the career path model, as well as proposed learning activities that support the needs of their current job and prepare them for future positions.

Contact Us

Please direct enquiries about this policy instrument to the organizational unit in your department responsible for this subject matter. For interpretation of this policy instrument, the responsible organizational unit should contact: TBS Public Enquiries.

FI to CFO Career Path

The FI to CFO Career Path identifies the knowledge and experience required by financial officers (FIs) who wish to become effective Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) or attain senior financial executive positions. Those wishing to pursue other FI career options may find this career path a useful reference tool.

Table 1 - Foundational Requirements
Foundational Requirements Qualifications Needed for Promotion – Level table 1 note 1
FI-01 FI-02 FI-03 FI-04 table 1 note 2 EX – Other EX – DCFO EX – CFO

Table 1 Notes

Table Note 1

These qualifications should be acquired at the level indicated prior to promotion to the next level.

Return to table 1 note 1 referrer

Table Note 2

In some small departments and agencies (SDA)s, FI-04s may hold the DCFO and/or CFO position and are subject to the same experience requirements as their EX counterparts.

Return to table 1 note 2 referrer

Table Note 3

This represents the minimum length of time an incumbent should serve at a level in order to develop the necessary competencies for that level.

Return to table 1 note 3 referrer

Table Note 4

The undergraduate degree should be in a field related to the financial management function (e.g., accounting, economics, commerce, business administration, finance).

Return to table 1 note 4 referrer

Table Note 5

The financial officer must be a member in good standing of a Canadian professional accounting association.

Return to table 1 note 5 referrer

Table Note 6

Financial officers at the FI-01 and FI-02 levels should be working toward a professional accreditation.

Return to table 1 note 6 referrer

Table Note 7

Bilingual capacity refers to the use of both official languages (English and French) and is based on the requirements of the position. Positions that supervise staff require a minimum of B level proficiency in writing, comprehension and oral communication.

Return to table 1 note 7 referrer

Years in level table 1 note 3 2 years 3–5 years 3–5 years 4–5 years 4–5 years 3–4 years 3–4 years
Education (Undergraduate degree table 1 note 4) Desirable Essential Essential Essential Essential Essential Essential
Professional accreditation table 1 note 5 Desirable table 1 note 6 Desirable Essential Essential Essential Essential Essential
Bilingual capacity table 1 note 7 Desirable Desirable Desirable Essential
(CBC)
Essential (CBC) Essential (CBC) Essential (CBC)

Table 2 - Functional Experience
Experience Qualifications Needed for Promotion - Level
FI-01 FI-02 FI-03 FI-04 EX – Other EX – DCFO EX – CFO
a. Financial planning Essential: one of a to i Essential: one of a to c
and
Essential: one of d to i
Essential: two of a to d
and
Essential: one of e to i
Essential Essential Essential Essential
b. External reporting Essential Essential Essential Essential
c. Internal resource management Essential Essential Essential Essential
d. Advisory services Desirable Essential Essential Essential
  • e. Accounting operations
  • f. Financial systems
  • g. Financial policy
  • h. Costing
  • i. Internal controls
Essential, one of e to i Essential, one of e to i Essential, one of e to i Essential, one of e to i

Table 3 - Breadth of Experience
Experience Qualifications Needed for Promotion - Level
FI-01 FI-02 FI-03 FI-04 EX – Other EX – DCFO EX – CFO

Table 1 Notes

Table Note 1

To qualify, each type of breadth of experience should equate to at least one complete budgetary cycle.  Ability to obtain breadth of experience may be impacted by the size of and mobility within individual organizations.

Return to table 2 note 1 referrer

Table Note 2

Departmental diversity relates to work experience gained in large, medium and small departments and agencies.

Return to table 2 note 2 referrer

Table Note 3

Financial management complexity relates to experience gained in a wide range of government financial management areas, including operating funds, capital, and grants and contributions.

Return to table 2 note 3 referrer

Table Note 4

Managerial responsibilities relate to experience gained in planning, directing and coordinating the work of staff and in implementing and applying rigorous and comprehensive human resources management. Managerial experience can also be gained at the FI-01 level but is most prevalent at the FI-02, FI-03 and FI-04 levels.

Return to table 2 note 4 referrer

Breadth of Experience table 2 note 1 a) Program and corporate service delivery NA Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable Essential Essential
b) Departmental diversity table 2 note 2 NA Desirable Desirable Essential Essential Essential Essential
c) Central agency NA NA Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable
d) Regional NA Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable
e) Financial Management complexity table 2 note 3 NA Desirable Desirable Essential Essential Essential Essential
f) Managerial table 2 note 4 NA Desirable Desirable Essential Essential Essential Essential
g) Internal or external audit NA NA Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable Desirable

Table 4 - Competencies
Competencies table 3 note 1 Qualifications Needed for Promotion - Level
FI-01 FI-02 FI-03 FI-04 EX – Other EX – DCFO EX – CFO

Table 3 Notes

Table Note 1

Competencies are based on the FI Competency Dictionary and include the Key Leadership Competencies developed by OCHRO. For details, see the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat web page on Key Leadership Competencies and the Financial Management Community GCpedia site for the FI Competency Dictionary.

Return to table 3 note 1 referrer

Table Note 2

The terms "basic", "active", "proactive" and "comprehensive" describe the underlying notion associated to the behaviours for that particular FI proficiency level for each competency, including the Key Leadership Competencies.

Return to table 3 note 2 referrer

Table Note 3

The reference to "employee", "supervisor", "manager" and "director" reflect the corresponding proficiency level found within the Key Leadership Competencies.

Return to table 3 note 3 referrer

Competencies a) Oral and written communications Basic table 3 note 2 Active Proactive Comprehensive Advanced Advanced Advanced
b) Risk management Basic Active Proactive Comprehensive Advanced Advanced Advanced
c) Negotiation skills/ integration function Basic Active Proactive Comprehensive Advanced Advanced Advanced
Key Leadership Competencies d) Values and ethics Employee table 3 note 3 Supervisor Manager Director Director DG ADM
e) Strategic thinking – analysis Employee Supervisor Manager Director DG DG ADM
f) Strategic thinking – ideas Employee Supervisor Manager Director DG DG ADM
g) Engagement Employee Supervisor Manager Manager Director DG ADM
h) Management excellence – action Employee Supervisor Supervisor Manager Director DG ADM
i) Management excellence – people Employee Employee Supervisor Manager Director DG ADM
j) Management Excellence – finance Employee Employee Supervisor Manager Director DG ADM
Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: