You made it through school, and then college, and then CPA training. You’ve got a good job now, maybe as an independent CPA, maybe as the CFO of a startup or of a major enterprise business. You’re a finance expert.
But even experts can improve. In the quickly-evolving world of finance, staying sharp is more important than ever. You’ve got fintech of all kinds coming at you, not to mention AI and ever-shifting regulatory requirements. You need strategic thinking and leadership skills as well as perpetually refreshed knowledge in your area of expertise.
There are several well-known and respected training courses, seminars, and programs available for CFOs and CPAs that prepare finance leaders to shine in their roles.
In this post we’ll break down the subject matter, format, and eligibility requirements of top CFO programs, professional certifications, and training seminars for finance experts.
Professional Certifications for CFOs
Finance executives have many options for professional certifications. Adding these impressive letters to your signature validates your expertise and demonstrates a commitment to continuous learning and professional growth.
Obtaining certifications like CFA, CMA, FPAC, and CTP generally requires passing exams administered by organizations specializing in finance and accounting. Some can be waived if you’ve got sufficient credentials. Most can be completed on your own timeline, with self-study and exam prep leading up the formal exam at a testing center. Here are some options:
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Program:
The CFA designation, received from completing the three-part CFA exam offered by CFA Institute, is highly regarded in the finance industry. Charterholders, as they are called, are prepared to lead as senior executives in investment management, risk management, asset management, and more.
The training covers investment analysis, portfolio management, and ethics. It’s designed for finance experts who specialize in investment management.
Three-part exam, prefaced by study sessions for each level, custom study plans, and optional practice pack add-on with additional practice questions and mock exams.
Membership in CFA Institute is required, as are 4000 hours of experience and an entry test.
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) Program:
The CMA certification, offered by the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), emphasizes management accounting and financial management skills.
Planning, risk management, performance management, technology and analytics.
Participants can choose between live instruction, virtual instruction, or self-study over 12-18 months to prepare for the exams.
Eligibility depends on both work and education requirements, as well as membership in IMA.
Financial Planning and Analysis Certification (FPAC) :
The FPAC certification, offered by the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), is for professionals involved in financial planning, budgeting, and forecasting. It is valuable for CFOs who oversee financial planning functions.
FP&A, including business and finance, systems and technology, business partnering, analysis and projections, models and analytics, and business communication.
Two exams, both of which must be completed within five years of enrollment. Recertification requires 45 hours of continuing education every three years.
This program has various eligibility categories, but most require three years’ experience and a bachelor’s or master’s degree.
Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) Certification
The CTP certification, offered by the Association for Financial Professionals, focuses on treasury management skills and is valuable for CFOs and others who would like to specialize in treasure issues.
Based on the current edition of The Essentials of Treasury Management, this certification covers subjects including the role of treasury management; legal, regulatory, and tax regulations; money and capital markets; working capital; risk management; investment; and more.
One exam, offered twice/year
Various combinations of career experience, teaching experience, and education allow finance pros to apply for this certification exam.
Advanced Finance Education at Top Business Schools
In addition to advanced degrees, many leading business schools offer specialized CFO courses online and in person. Programs like this equip participants to make strategic financial decisions and effectively manage financial operations for organizations and individuals. They also enhance professional credibility and demonstrate a commitment to continuous learning, making candidates more competitive for promotions, leadership roles, and career advancement opportunities.
- Harvard Business School's virtual and in-person finance workshops
- Wharton’s The CFO: Becoming a Strategic Partner
- Stanford Executive Education’s Financial Leadership Program
- Columbia’s Executive Program in Finance
Varies by program. Likely to include:
- In-depth exploration of finance topics like financial analysis, investment management, risk management, and corporate finance
- A broader understanding of strategic financial management, including topics like capital budgeting, financial planning and forecasting, mergers and acquisitions, and international finance
- Risk management skills associated with investments, liquidity, interest rates, foreign exchange, and other market variables.
- Exposure to diverse perspectives, industry best practices, and potential collaborations.
Varies by program
Varies by program
Other CPA and CFO Learning Opportunities
If you want to learn something specific quickly, you can look into the multitude of professional development options beyond certifications and degrees. If you like to read, find some excellent books that delve into finance topics. If you’re more comfortable at a screen, workshops, seminars, webinars, online trainings, bootcamps, and masterclasses are available in every format imaginable. Just look for something in your area of interest that works for your schedule. Here are some examples.
Deloitte Finance Leadership Program
Deloitte’s Finance Leadership Program helps finance executives build strong leadership, communication, and decision-making skills.
Sessions are led by CFOs and board members and cover subjects like M&A, the role of a CFO, taxes, technology, and more.
Format varies: one- or two-day options or multiple sessions spread out over a year.
CFOs and finance leaders.
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) Training
If you’re the CFO for an international company, or otherwise deal with cross-border financial operations, you would be well-served to keep your IFRS (international financial reporting standards) training up to date with the AICPA's IFRS certificate program.
Modules cover topics including intangible assets; share-based payments and employee benefits; income taxes; segment reporting; fair value measurement, and more.
Multimedia, self-study online program with 25 modules, created with input from dozens of experts worldwide. Interactive elements and case studies help illustrate scenarios.
AICPA recommends that participants have a basic understanding, but not detailed knowledge, of IFRS before enrolling. CPAs who complete this program are eligible for continuing education credits.
AICPA Leadership Academy:
Many CFOs are likely to be past the need for this one, but for young CPAs with leadership aspirations, it may be just the thing. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) offers the Leadership Academy, an intensive program on leadership skills.
The curriculum focuses on strategic planning, team building, and effective communication, and the experience includes learning and networking.
Four-day in-person program “designed to expose the next generation of CPAs to a strong ethic of leadership and service.”
Eligibility requirements include an age limit (25-35), as this program is for CPAs on their way to leadership (rather than those who are already CFOs or executives).
Online Learning Platforms:
Many online learning platforms offer finance-related courses, webinars, and tutorials. Try platforms like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, and Udemy. Or attend webinars and webcasts hosted by industry experts, regulatory bodies, or financial institutions.
Varies by program
Varies by program
Varies by program
Staying ahead in a field like finance means committing to lifelong learning. Finance leaders who want to keep their expertise sharp can pursue certifications, formal education programs, or specialized courses online or in person. Knowledge is never a wasted investment, so think strategically about what kind of program or course might suit your needs best. Then do your research online to find current information on curriculum, eligibility, and registration details.
In addition, seek out other finance experts with whom you can exchange information and insights. Kiplinger Advisor Collective is the premier criteria-based professional organization for personal finance advisors, managers, and executives. Get access to peers, resources, events, and opportunities to collaborate and grow your business. If you’re a CFO, CPA, or other finance professional, see if you qualify.