profitjets logo

Treasurer VS CFO: Key Differences 

Treasurer VS CFO
Read Time: 6 min

Financial leadership is a crucial aspect of success for startups and high-growth businesses in today’s fast-paced world. The roles of Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer (CFO) are often confused, but they both play a significant role in ensuring financial health with different responsibilities and strategic focus. It is essential to understand these distinctions to build a solid financial team and achieve sustainable growth.

This in-depth guide thoroughly analyzes the ongoing debate between the Treasurer and CFO roles, clarifying the significant discrepancies between these positions and their influence on your company’s financial health.

Table of Contents

Treasurer vs CFO: Definition


The Treasurer is a senior finance professional responsible for managing a company’s financial assets and liabilities. They act as the custodian of the company’s cash, overseeing tasks like:

  • Cash flow management involves forecasting cash needs, managing bank accounts, and ensuring sufficient liquidity to meet operational expenses.

  • Payments and collections: Manage accounts payable and receivable, ensure timely payments to vendors, and collect outstanding receivables from customers.

  • Banking relationships: Maintaining solid relationships with banks and financial institutions, securing optimal financing terms.

  • Investment management: Overseeing short-term investments of surplus funds to maximize returns while maintaining liquidity.

  • Risk management: Involves recognizing and reducing financial hazards related to cash flow, interest rates, and foreign currency exchange.

  • Internal controls: Implementing and maintaining strong internal controls to safeguard company assets from fraud or theft.


The CFO is the top financial executive within a company, holding a seat at the C-suite table. The organization’s economic strategy and health are their responsibility as a whole. The CFO’s purview encompasses:

  • Strategic financial planning: Developing and implementing long-term financial strategies aligned with the company’s growth objectives.

  • Securities issuance: Leading fundraising initiatives, such as issuing stocks or bonds, to secure capital for growth.

  • Financial reporting and analysis: This involves overseeing the accuracy and transparency of financial statements and providing insightful financial analysis to guide strategic decision-making.

  • Mergers and acquisitions (M&A): This involves evaluating potential M&A opportunities, conducting financial due diligence, and negotiating terms that benefit the company.

  • Investor relations: Communicating financial performance to investors, building trust and confidence through clear and transparent communication.

  • Risk management involves identifying, assessing, and mitigating various financial risks, including market fluctuations and economic downturns.

  • Financial technology (FinTech) adoption: Evaluating and implementing FinTech solutions to streamline financial processes and gain a competitive edge.

Treasurer vs CFO: Similarities

Despite their distinct responsibilities, both Treasurers and CFOs share some key similarities:

  • Strong Financial Expertise: Both roles require a deep understanding of accounting principles, financial analysis, and budgeting.

  • Leadership and Communication Skills: Effective leadership is crucial for both positions. Leaders must motivate and guide financial teams while fostering collaboration and clear communication within and with external stakeholders.

  • Regulatory Compliance: Ensuring adherence to relevant financial regulations and reporting standards is a shared responsibility.

  • Strategic Thinking: While the CFO focuses on long-term strategy, Treasurers also contribute by considering the financial implications of day-to-day decisions and potential risks.

Treasurer vs CFO: Differences

The key differences between a Treasurer and a CFO lie in their scope of focus, responsibilities, and reporting structure. Here’s a breakdown to clarify these distinctions:

FeatureTreasurer CFO
FocusDay-to-day operational, financial management, and risk mitigation Overall financial strategy and long-term growth 
Responsibilities Cash flow management, Payments & collections, Banking relationships, Investment Management, Short-term risk management, and Internal controlsStrategic financial planning, Securities issuance, Financial reporting & analysis, M&A, Investor relations, Long-term risk management, and FinTech adoption
Reporting Structure Reports to the CFO Reports to the CEO
Experience 10+ years of experience in treasury operations and risk management Extensive experience (15+ yrs) with a proven track record of strategic financial leadership 

Additional Points of Distinction:

  • Salary: CFOs typically command higher wages due to their broader responsibilities and strategic decision-making.

  • Company Size: Smaller companies might have a combined Treasurer/CFO role, with one person handling both responsibilities. As a company grows, the roles become more distinct, and the need for dedicated professionals in each position becomes more evident.

  • Future Career Path: For aspiring CFOs, the Treasurer role is a valuable stepping stone. It demonstrates their ability to manage complex financial operations and mitigate risks before navigating the broader strategic aspects of the job.
Treasurer vs CFO

Treasurer vs CFO: Roles and Responsibilities

Responsibilities of the Treasurer:

  • Cash Flow Management:
    • Forecasting cash inflows and outflows to ensure sufficient liquidity for operational needs.
    • Managing bank accounts and optimizing cash flow through efficient payment processing and collections.
    • Negotiating favorable terms with banks for lending facilities and other financial products.

  • Payments and Collections:
    • Overseeing accounts payable and receivable processes to ensure timely payments to vendors and efficient collection of customer payments.
    • Implementing automated payment systems to streamline processes and improve efficiency.
    • Managing relationships with vendors and collections agencies to ensure timely settlements.

  • Banking Relationships:
    • Cultivating strong relationships with banks and financial institutions.
    • Negotiating favorable terms for lending facilities, lines of credit, and other banking products.
    • Maintaining open communication with bankers to inform them of the company’s financial performance.

  • Investment Management:
    • Overseeing short-term investments of surplus funds to maximize returns while maintaining liquidity.
    • Developing investment strategies that align with the company’s risk tolerance and financial goals.
    • Observing the progress of investments and modifying them when necessary.

  • Risk Management:
    • Identifying and assessing potential financial risks associated with cash flow, interest rates, and foreign currency exchange.
    • Minimizing potential losses can be achieved by implementing risk mitigation strategies, such as diversification or hedging.
    • Developing and maintaining a comprehensive risk management framework to safeguard the company’s financial assets.

  • Internal Controls:
    • Implementing and maintaining robust internal controls to ensure the accuracy and integrity of financial records.
    • Safeguarding company assets from fraud or theft by segregating duties and access controls.
    • Conducting regular reviews of internal controls to identify and address any weaknesses.

Responsibilities of the CFO:

  • Strategic Financial Planning:
    • Developing long-term financial plans and forecasts aligned with the company’s overall growth objectives.
    • Performing financial modeling and scenario planning to assess the potential impact of different strategic decisions.
    • Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress towards financial goals.

  • Securities Issuance:
    • Leading fundraising initiatives, such as issuing stocks or bonds, to secure capital for growth and expansion.
    • Preparing financial documents and presentations for potential investors.
    • Negotiating terms with investment bankers and other financial intermediaries.

  • Financial Reporting and Analysis:
    • Overseeing the accuracy and transparency of financial statements (balance sheets, income statements, cash flow statements).
    • Providing insightful financial analysis to internal stakeholders, including the CEO, board of directors, and operational teams.
    • Ensuring compliance with relevant accounting standards and financial reporting regulations.

  • Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A):
    • Identifying and evaluating potential M&A opportunities that align with the company’s strategic goals.
    • Conducting financial due diligence to assess the target company’s financial health and risks.
    • Negotiating the terms of M&A transactions to maximize value for the shareholders.

  • Investor Relations:
    • Building and maintaining strong relationships with investors (both current and potential).
    • Communicating financial performance to investors through regular reports, presentations, and investor calls.
    • Addressing investor concerns and inquiries in a transparent and timely manner.

  • Long-Term Risk Management:
    • Identifying, assessing, and mitigating various financial risks, including market fluctuations, economic downturns, and regulation changes.
    • The company requires the development and execution of risk management plans to safeguard its financial stability.
    • Monitoring internal and external factors that could impact the company’s financial performance.

  • FinTech Adoption:
    • Evaluating and implementing cloud-based accounting software, financial data analytics tools, and other FinTech solutions.
    • Leveraging FinTech to streamline financial processes, improve efficiency, and gain a competitive edge.
    • When incorporating new FinTech solutions, it is essential to guarantee data security and adhere to pertinent compliance regulations.

Choosing the Right Leader: Treasurer vs. CFO

The ideal choice between a Treasurer and a CFO depends on your company’s stage of development and financial complexity. Here’s a quick guide:

Treasurer: Ideal for

  • Startups: In the early stages of a startup, when financial operations are relatively simple, a dedicated Treasurer might be optional. The CFO or another senior finance professional can often handle these responsibilities. However, as the startup scales and financial operations become more complex, the need for a dedicated Treasurer becomes more evident.

  • High-Growth Businesses: As a high-growth business navigates rapid expansion, a skilled Treasurer can ensure efficient cash flow management, mitigate financial risks, and free up the CFO’s time to focus on strategic financial planning and investor relations.

CFO: Ideal for

  • High-Growth Businesses: A seasoned CFO is crucial for high-growth businesses. Their financial strategy, fundraising, and M&A expertise become paramount for securing capital, navigating growth, and achieving long-term economic stability.

  • Established Companies: Established companies with complex financial operations require a CFO at the helm to oversee financial reporting, manage risk, and guide strategic decision-making.
Treasurer vs CFO


Ultimately, the success of your financial team lies not just in individual roles but in collaboration and a shared vision for growth. Treasurers and CFOs bring complementary skillsets, and fostering a solid working relationship is essential. When these positions work in tandem, they can provide a comprehensive financial management framework that fuels a company’s success and propels it toward long-term economic sustainability.