What Is the Difference Between CEO and CFO?

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The chief executive officer is the highest-ranking overall position in the entire company, while the chief financial officer is the highest-ranking financial position. While both essential positions in any company, there are major differences in the roles each one plays.

The CEO is in charge of looking at the company's "big picture" — overseeing all departments, from administration to sales. It is not typically the CEO's responsibility to get into the detailed responsibilities of each department, however; she maintains a broad oversight with the help of regular reporting from senior management executives from each department. The CEO's principal focus points include staying within the overall company budget, maintaining a strong position in the market and implementing decisions made by the company's board of directors.

The CFO reports directly to the CEO. As the top financial officer in the company, the CFO's responsibilities include putting together budgets, keeping track of revenue and expenses, analyzing financial data and reporting those findings to the CEO and board of directors. A CFO also serves as the company's liaison between banks, investors, lenders and other financial institutions. The CFO's main responsibility is maintaining and improving a company's financial health, and she works closely with the CEO to achieve this.