A Guide to Corporate Officers and Their Roles

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In the US, it is typically required for publicly traded companies to have at least a few corporate officers. Some companies have dozens. It is also not uncommon for private or non-profit companies to create corporate officer positions. As with any job title, the duties assumed by a corporate officer at one firm may differ from those assumed at another, but broad similarities still exist.

Listed below are common corporate titles, separated into two groups: the corporate staff, and the CXO’s. Individuals may hold titles from one or both lists.

CXO’s

A CXO is a chief officer in the company. CXO actually stands for “chief X officer”. The X in the CXO is a stand-in. It doesn’t actually abbreviate a word. It is meant to be replaced by other letters when abbreviating various corporate titles. For example: CEO stands for chief executive officer”, and CFO stands for “chief financial officer”.

To be a chief officer is to assume charge over all other employees in a specified department. The CEO has authority over other executives in the company, and the CFO has authority over financial officers.

Listed below are the most common CXO titles in America.

CEO

As mentioned above, the chief executive officer is in charge of the executives in the firm. The CEO is generally positioned as the figurehead and leader of their firm, though other corporate officers often operate with similar levels of importance and authority. One of the CEO’s duties is to act as the main contact point between the board of directors and the other corporate officers. This means the CEO will generally have a special relationship with shareholders that other corporate officers lack. This may recommend the CEO for participatory roles in the annual shareholder meeting, if applicable.

CFO

The chief financial officer is the head of all financial operations in the business. They are likely to be the foremost authority on the firm’s finances. They often oversee the generation of budgets, tax procedures, and the collection of financial accounting data for the annual shareholder meetings and quarterly reports.

COO

The chief operations officer plays an important and often understated role. They are the ultimate head of day to day company matters. A COO is generally charged with ensuring efficient company operation on the most minute levels. They are often the most active problem-solvers of all the corporate officers.

CRO

The chief revenue officer is in charge of managing revenue sources. This is different from the CFO, who oversees both the inflow and the outflow of resources. The CRO’s duties usually cover areas of client retention, new acquisitions, and growth. Their primary concern is generally the drumming up new business and the increasing of scope of existing business. The CRO may be the one overseeing growth-related propositions at shareholder meetings.

CIO

The chief information officer is the head of information technology, or IT. Their role varies in importance from company to company. Certain firms depend more on technology than others. Determinants of this officer’s importance include the services the company provides, the technological needs of the company’s workers, and the network requirements required to maintain the IT department, among others. In shareholder meetings with proxy options involving technology, the CIO is likely to oversee certain areas of setup and preparation.

CSO

The chief security officer is generally the head of both physical and non-physical protection programs. Their importance may vary from company to company, depending on physical and electronic needs for security. Likewise, the day-to-day function of the CSO may vary from firm to firm. Software companies may have a CSO with vastly different charges than a CSO in the wholesale industry. As such, their role in the annual meeting will vary as well. Generally, this officer has no need to appear in the meeting.

Corporate Staff

These are separate roles from the chief officers listed above. It is common, if not usual, for a CXO to fill one of the bellow roles in addition to their chief officer role.

Corporate President/Vice President:

The position of corporate president is a separate role from the CEO, though the two are often filled by the same person. In the case that they are not, the corporate president is usually the second-highest-ranking corporate officer, next to the CEO. They are generally charged with more short-term operational duties than the CEO, and so it is not uncommon either to assign this position to the COO.
The corporate vice president acts in a supplemental role to the corporate president’s position.

Corporate Secretary

It is the primary role of the corporate secretary to oversee company governance. They are charged with the firm’s organizational soundness. Their work often consists of schedule making, communication, and meeting planning. They take minutes during the director and general shareholder meetings and compile important documents for corporate events. (Please note that it is advisable to have the secretary’s minutes reviewed by a corporate lawyer before distributing them.) The corporate secretary may also be charged with the compilation and storage of the corporate kit: a bundle of important documents relating to an organization’s corporate status. The kit may include official documents such as the company’s bylaws, the minutes of important meetings, and the articles of incorporation.

Corporate Treasurer

This individual, much like the CFO, is charged with the management of company funds. It is not uncommon for this title to be held in conjunction with that of the CFO. If it is not, then the roles of CFO vs corporate treasurer are separated by company bylaws and state regulations.
It is also not uncommon for this role to be held in conjunction with that of the corporate secretary. In that case, a new corporate title is created; that of the corporate secretary-treasurer.

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