Financial Management:

Profile of Financial Personnel in Large Private Sector Corporations and State Governments

AIMD-98-34: Published: Jan 2, 1998. Publicly Released: Jan 2, 1998.

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Lisa G. Jacobson
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the background and training of key financial personnel at 34 of the largest private corporations and 19 of the largest state governments in the United States, focusing on: (1) education, work experience, training, and professional certifications of their key management personnel; and (2) training and qualification requirements for these personnel.

GAO noted that: (1) while a majority of Fortune 100 and state government financial management personnel held undergraduate degrees in accounting or other business fields, personnel in chief financial officer (CFO) and controller positions were more likely to also hold advanced degrees; (2) in both sectors, managers and supervisors of financial analysis were more likely to hold advanced degrees than their counterparts in financial reporting and accounting operations; (3) in the Fortune 100 companies, the most common advanced degree was a Master of Business Administration (MBA); (4) in state governments, MBAs and other master's degrees were both prevalent; (5) accounting, auditing, and systems experience of financial management personnel averaged about 14 years for Fortune 100 companies and about 20 years for state government organizations; (6) for each sector, the majority of the work experience was in corporate or governmental accounting and finance, respectively; (7) combined experience in public accounting, internal auditing, and accounting systems design and maintenance averaged 2.5 years for the Fortune 100 respondents and about 4 years for the state government respondents; (8) these fields often provide personnel with a broad base of experience with accounting, and other organizationwide issues; (9) continuing professional education training was encouraged in Fortune 100 and state government organizations responding to GAO's survey; (10) on average, Fortune 100 and state government financial management personnel completed about 26 to 31 hours of training, respectively, in 1996; (11) respondents from both groups received the majority of their training in technical accounting subjects; (12) about 70 percent of Fortune 100 respondents and 45 percent of state government respondents set aside from 1 to 2 percent of their budgets for financial management staff salaries and benefits to train these staff each year; (13) as for professional certifications, over 40 percent of the Fortune 100 and about 30 percent of the state controllers and managers and supervisors of financial reporting were certified public accountants; and (14) in addition, about 10 percent of state government personnel, across positions, were certified government financial managers.

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