Many Accountants may aspire to become a Finance Director one day. Perhaps you’re in line for a promotion into the role and you’re wondering –
- “Do I have the right skills to do this?”
- “Am I cut out for it?”
- “Will I do as well as my current FD?”
Being a successful Finance Director comes down to many things, and don’t forget that ‘success’ is subjective. It means many things to many people.
That said, we do believe there are some fundamental skills that a Finance Director needs in order to perform well in their position.
So, if you aspire to step into the Director’s shoes one day, if you’re about to embark on a new leadership role, or if you’re already in one, you may want to check these out…
A true understanding of people
Refraining from using the term “excellent communication skills” (because you’ve heard this thousands of times) we are referring here to all-round interpersonal ability.
As the Finance Director you often report directly into the CEO and work closely with them, as well as interfacing with almost all other business units. An FD who is unable to communicate, advise, influence, challenge and listen will struggle to make an impact.
You will need to listen with an open mind in order to truly understand the CEO’s vision and plan for the future. As FD, it’s your role to advise on such plans, challenge where necessary and communicate through numbers how the business will reach such goals.
Not only this, you must clearly and effectively communicate your message down from the board to your subsequent Finance team and other relevant business units. Altering your stakeholder management style to suit colleagues around you is key. This is a fine art, and one that takes time to master. Stepping into the role with the right amount of experience behind you will certainly help with this.
Commercial acumen and affinity with numbers
Naturally, as Finance Director it is expected that you are comfortable dealing with numbers. You should have the capability to interpret them and produce tangible outcomes for the wider business.
Not only this, you should have the commercial awareness and thinking to be able to apply such data to the business goals. As FD you will have influence over the other areas of the organisation, and it’s your role to drive the business forward financially. Having a strong commercial mindset will no doubt set you up well for the role.
An eye for detail and logical nature
As FD you’re likely to have final sign off on many expenditures. Keeping a close eye on the details here is crucial to the overall business success.
In addition to this, when provided with analysis and reports, it’s your role as Director to check for errors or anomalies. Keeping a focused eye on all aspects of the financial reporting will ensure you don’t miss a trick and avoid mistakes.
Finally, when faced with challenges, your team will look to you. As FD you need to take a logical and calm approach to resolving such problems. You may mentor and coach your team to an outcome or you may need to set a roadmap for the business as a whole. Either way, logical thinking will benefit you here.
This list could continue as there are many other skills and capabilities that we see is great Finance Directors.
Why not check out our ‘Climbing the Ladder’ series where we ask local Finance Director’s for their own insight and advice to anyone aspiring to become an FD one day. Click here to check out the latest episode.