34 Competencies required to become a CFO(SA)

As a professional body, SAIBA offers the only official designation for Finance Executives, as registered by SAQA. Due to this unique position, we need to ensure that the Finance Executive that earns our acclaimed CFO(SA) designation, is ready for the future of finance.

In developing the CFO(SA) designation, we identified 34 competencies and four pillars that the Modern CFO needs to fulfill to excel in their leadership position.

The CFO Club and all its benefits assist members to obtain the 34 competencies required to perform the functions and roles of the modern CFO. The CFO(SA) designation holder need to uphold these competencies on a strategic level.


These are the competencies that set the bar for you to earn your CFO(SA) designation:


1. Steward Role & Competencies:

Accounting, control, risk management and asset preservation are the proficiencies of the Steward. The Steward must ensure company compliance with financial reporting and control requirements. Information quality and control rationalisation are top-of-mind issues for the Steward.

Competencies include:
  1. Working knowledge of risk management, budget, and forecasting tools
  2. Investment and credit risk knowledge
  3. Accounting knowledge (IFRS and taxation)
  4. External financial and regulatory reporting knowledge
  5. Understanding financial information systems and informational needs of decision makers
  6. Understanding of systems, processes, and internal controls over financial information
  7. Understanding the business environment
  8. Fraud prevention, detection, investigation


2. Operator Role & Competencies:

Efficiency and service levels are the primary areas of focus for the Operator. The Operator must dynamically balance cost and service levels to deliver on the finance function’s responsibilities, and adapt finance’s operating model as necessary. Talent management, offshoring and shared service decisions are often the key issues to be addressed. This role is oriented toward best practices of the finance function itself.

Competencies include:
  1. Staff planning
  2. Project management
  3. Staff management, mentoring, team building, and creating accountability
  4. Corporate finance
  5. Treasury and investment management
  6. Mergers and acquisitions, strategic alliances
  7. Maximizing capital employed
  8. Achievement / results orientation
  9. Catalyst Role & Competencies:


3. Catalyst Role & Competencies

The Catalyst is an agent for change, focused on establishing a value-driven attitude throughout the organisation. The Catalyst identifies, evaluates and executes strategies, and serves as a business partner to other decision-makers. The Catalyst establishes a structure of enterprise accountability directed toward results, drives enterprise execution and gains acceptance from business management as the organisation’s catalyst. This role is oriented toward the best practices of the entire organisation.

Competencies include:
  1. Leadership and influence
  2. Communication/ presentation skills and executive presence
  3. Corporate governance
  4. Negotiation
  5. Relationship building and collaboration
  6. Personal integrity, ethics, ability to identify ethical dilemmas and make ethical decisions
  7. Change management and flexibility
  8. Self-awareness and insight


4. Strategist Role & Competencies:


The Strategist is a director focused on defining the future of the company to enhance business performance and shareholder value. The Strategist provides a financial perspective on innovation and profitable growth, leverages this perspective to improve risk-awareness, strategic decision-making, and performance management integration, and translates the expectations of the capital markets into internal business imperatives. This role is oriented toward long-term, strategic issues, and is outwardly directed.

Competencies include:
  1. Goal setting / visioning
  2. Strategic risk management
  3. Strategic thinking and decision-making
  4. Performance management integration
  5. Critical thinking
  6. Managing ambiguity
  7. Dedication to continuous improvement
  8. Advocate / ambassador for the organization


Show your commitment to leadership and stand out amongst your peers with the only designation for Finance Executives. Learn more about the CFO(SA) designation here. 

Download the CFO(SA) handbook, including application requirements here.

Apply to become a CFO(SA) designation holder here.



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