Ever wonder what a chief financial officer (CFO) actually does? Well, a CFO, such as PepsiCo's (NYSE:PEP) Indra Nooyi, Southwest Airlines' (NYSE:LUV) Laura Wright, Home Depot's (NYSE:HD) Carol Tome, Verizon's (NYSE:VZ) Doreen Toben, Yahoo!'s (NASDAQ:YHOO) Susan Decker, First Data's (NYSE:FDC) Kimberly Patmore, and Merck's (NYSE:MRK) Judy Lewent, is responsible for all things financial at the firm. This includes determining what the company's financial needs are and will be, how best to finance those needs, and informing all stakeholders (investors, creditors, analysts, employees, management) of the firm's financial condition.

She (or he) is also focused on creating and maintaining the best mix of internal cash, debt financing, and equity financing for the company (its "capital structure"). As part of those responsibilities, she plans and oversees the forecasting and budgeting process, maintains relationships with funding sources such as commercial and investment banks, and oversees the development and communication of the quarterly and annual financial statements.

To learn more about investing Foolishly and how the business world works, visit our Fool School and our Investing Basics area. Or check out some of our inexpensive and well-regarded online how-to guides (which feature money-back guarantees). You can also learn all about brokerages and find one that's right for you in our Broker Center. (Did you know that some well-regarded brokerages are offering commissions as low as $5?)

Merck is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Home Depot is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick.