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Five traits of the highly effective financial director

There are skills every financial director has, and there are skills that exceptional financial directors have. Our experience as a company with a team of top notch finance executives has shown that the skillset required by a leading person in our profession is somewhat different to the predictable abilities of number crunching and ledger balancing.

Here are some of the attributes of a highly effective financial director:

  1. An effective financial director is a not only an accountant, they’re a strategist and a business leader. Having sharp financial skills goes without saying. In this position, it’s a default skill to have. A top tier financial director is much more than that. They possess the skills that make them an invaluable member of the top management team of the business. They’re “big picture” thinkers, long term planners and shrewd business-people.
  2. An effective financial director is a team player. In this role, you’ll be functioning in at least three teams. Firstly, you need the skills to build and manage your own motivated and successful finance team. The accuracy of their work will determine your success. You also need to be able to function as a member of the management team of the business – helping to strategise for the future of the company, and making decisions along with the MD or CEO that will determine the course that it takes. You need to be able to punt your point, and then accept and support the decision of the chief officer of the company. The last team you’ll need to play in is outside the walls of your company. You must be able to develop key external relationships to create a strong network in which to operate. All in all, you’ll be constantly needing to think of your role in relation to others.
  3. An effective financial director is a communicator. Your communication prowess will be pushed to its limits in this role. You need to be able to convince top management of your way of thinking, persuade an entire company to stick within your budgets, and ensure that your finance team has bought into your vision. Above all, you’ll be constantly explaining things to people who don’t have the technical background you do. How successfully you do these things will in large measure determine how far you get. Communication is key.
  4. An effective financial director is a people’s person. When we talk about people’s people, we are not talking about being a natural extrovert. We are talking about learning the art of bringing your team with you. Your role is not only about having accurate budget forecasts and cash flow statements. It’s about recognizing that the business is run by people, and that they need to take the business to its destination. It’s about showing people you acknowledge their roles and bringing them with you.
  5. An effective financial director stays relevant. This means making the time to constantly update your knowledge and skills. We’re talking about ensuring that you’re au fait with the latest accounting rules and regulations, but we’re also talking about staying in touch with the needs of the people you manage, and making sure you are always accurately representing their vantage point to the senior management team. The mark of a successful director is that, if you weren’t there, a relevant and insightful voice of the top management team would be missing.

If your company is in need of a highly effective financial director, our network of top finance executives from The Finance Team can assist. We can provide anything from ongoing, full or part-time assistance to help with once-off projects, according to the needs of your business.

 

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