Understanding Executive Job Titles

There are so many abbreviated executive titles that people might think of them like an alphabet soup. Even long time employees do not know what certain titles actually mean or the job functions they entail. There are three main executive titles found in the business, banking, and finance arena that are most common: CEO, CFO, and CLO.

The executive title that is most frequently in the public eye is CEO, which stands for chief executive officer. The CEO is normally the person that has the most control in daily operations. This person is charged with being the decision maker for the company. The CEO usually holds the title of company president, although this is not always the case. He may additionally be given the title of CVO or chief visionary officer.

The CEO is in charge of all the different departments in the organization and is personally responsible for the successes and failures of all of these divisions. A CEO may have only a high school degree if he founded the company. Usually the CEO will have at least a bachelor's degree and most have Masters' degrees or even a Ph. D. He does not routinely perform the day-to-day management of these departments.

The CEO is the highest paid employee in the organization because he has the most responsibility and authority of any employee. Because of the enormity of his responsibilities, his pay is a direct reflection of his duties.

The overseeing of daily operations are usually given to the COO or chief operating officer. The CEO is hired, not by acting managers, but by the board of directors who are elected by the stockholders in many organizations. Therefore, the CEO's boss is not anyone working in the company on a daily basis, but it is the board of directors who oversee the entire organization.

The next most important and recognized executive title is that of the CFO, which stands for chief financial officer. The CFO's duties are not as encompassing as the duties and responsibilities of the CEO. A CFO will usually have a bachelor's or a master's degree in business, finance, or accounting. Unlike the CEO, the CFO is concerned with the financial matters and obligations of the organization. With past business and finance scandals, this position has become more important than ever. The CFO keeps a business on solid financial footing. He or she watches and monitors budgets for the organization and requests changes and modifications when necessary. Parts of his duties include keeping the organization working efficiently as possible.

The duties of a CFO include managing and analyzing the organization's finances in terms of investments, corporate bonds, and stocks. He will also keep a close eye on inventory, payroll, and any expenditure involving company funds. If the CFO does not oversee correctly these duties, the organization might not maintain solvency in the business world. The cash flow and financial health of the organization is the sole responsibility of the CFO. Boards of directors and CEOs all look for quarterly updates from the CFOs to keep them posted on how the company is doing financially.
Another executive title that is found in all large and a few small organizations is that of the CLO, who is the company's chief legal officer. A CLO has a degree in law and has passed the bar for the state in which he or she is practicing. The CLO is in charge of the legal department and all legal affairs involving the company.

The CLO has duties that range from handling formal legal matters to overseeing the constructing of the newest employee handbooks. The human resource department is responsible for the content of the employee handbook, but the CLO is concerned with how the content is worded. A CLO must be watchful for any type of legal issue or liability on any front. His job is to divert or resolve any legal matters that could damage the organization. In addition, the CLO will be called upon for advice and decisions involving any hostile takeovers, mergers, and acquisitions.

The role of the CLO during events such as these is to make sure that all of the legal decisions are solid and reasonable. The CLO must be sure to keep the best interests of the company in mind .These executives must make sure that any business changes will still protect the company. Without the CLO, legal matters would have to be taken to a third party for advice. The CLO can handle any type of legal human resource matter that might arise such as employee harassment or disputed employee terminations.

One of the most important duties of the CLO is to help in the protection of the company's assets. These assets can include both intellectual property and physical property that belongs to the company. In order to do this the CLO will be sure that the organization's patents, copyrights, and trademarks are filed correctly and are up to date.

These three executive titles, CEO, CFO, and CLO, are those that most people will be exposed to in any business setting. Understanding the difference between them will benefit to everyone, including job seekers. It will be necessary to understand the job and the requirements in order to see if it is a position that falls within their qualifications. It is also helpful to know with whom you might be interviewing or working for in the future.
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