Working as a municipal CFO requires a variety of qualities. Although the responsibilities and expectations can vary among local governments, there are universal skills and experience you need to be successful. If you aspire to be a municipal CFO, make sure you have these five qualities.
As a municipal CFO, you report on and clearly communicate financial information. This includes breaking down complex data to provide information for making decisions and planning for the future. It also includes pointing out flaws in plans and bringing up financial issues that may impact the programs being offered. Strong working relationships and attention to detail make you qualified for these responsibilities.
In your role of municipal CFO, you are skilled in creating strategy. A well-informed perspective on the impact of internal processes, public needs and influences demonstrates drawing financial insight from a strong knowledge base. Thinking long term and applying commercial thinking to financial planning are imperative. Cultivating a strong working relationship with the City Manager, other directors and colleagues provides a complete understanding of how the entire municipality runs.
Working as a municipal CFO, you keep up with trends and how evolving technology may impact the municipality are on your mind. Knowing how advances in artificial intelligence and automation in data collection and reporting impact the way that financial professionals complete their work is in your thought process. A working knowledge of and adherence to current laws, regulations and compliance standards is always top of mind.
As a municipal CFO, you focus on and reinforce internal control policies for the entire municipality. Having more than one staff member handle billing, process payments, turn over revenues and reconcile accounts cuts down on incidence of errors and fraud.
Because each year weaves into the next, having one to three years of completed budgeting is common. Decisions regarding next year’s budget affect future budgets as well. Whereas collective bargaining agreements, debt service payments, contract obligations and other future expenses are known, other parts of the budget can be projected based on historical analysis. Keeping an eye on drivers of future budgets provides the ability to adjust plans today to reduce their impact on the future. For instance, if a tax levy needs to be increased, it may be done incrementally rather than all at once to alleviate taxpayers’ burden.
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