A popular maxim says: “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”. The saying, which hails back to the 1970s, applies not only to romance but to hiring for business as well.
Most business owners have had the experience of taking on someone who seemed perfect for the job only to discover they are far from it. In the best case scenario, that person feels the same way about the company as you do about them, and they move on by themselves. In the worst case scenario, they cling to their position with both hands, costing the business time and money, damaging important relationships and knocking brand equity.
Just like the first ‘frog’ you kiss is unlikely to be a prince, no one’s going to make the perfect hiring decision every time. But it’s worth doubling your efforts to ensure you take on the right person when it comes to certain positions in the business. The “cost” of making the wrong decision increases when you hire for key positions. The role of financial manager is one of those.
When looking for the right financial manager for your business, take some time to learn about key pointers. The Finance Team specializes in finding great financial executives and placing them in the best positions. Headed by two Chartered Accountants with several decades’ experience in top South African firms, we’ve come up with a few guidelines to help you find the financial manager that’s right for you.
- Let history do the talking. Nothing speaks to a financial manager’s track record like what she has been able to accomplish in her previous positions. Scrutinize the financial results of previous employers, and check if they measure up against what she claims she achieved during her tenure. If those aren’t available, have some in-depth discussions with her previous bosses. These executives will often be candid in their feedback, and can also provide you with useful context. For example, a financial manager who oversaw a marginal profit loss during an industry downturn might be more worthy than a financial manager who oversaw a rise in sales during a boom period.
- Look for a decisive decision-maker. An accountant’s role is innately analytical. It goes without saying that you’re looking for a financial manager who has an eye for detail and can identify a single mistake on a page. However, you’re also looking for a leader in your business – and that means someone who can quickly and confidently make decisions. To find someone who is detail orientated but also makes decisions without deliberating over them for days is a rare combination. A financial manager who possesses both traits will be invaluable to your management team.
- Look for someone who understands the importance of human capital. Most financial managers know the importance of working capital, but a great financial manager appreciates the worth of human capital as well. As a key leader in your business, you need someone who can communicate clearly, motivate well and mentor effectively. He recognizes that mastering the ‘soft skills’ is what sets him apart in his industry.
- Look for a team player. Historically, a finance head gave fairly one-dimensional input. His focus was the bottom line, and he motivated for whatever kept costs down and margins up. Nowadays, he’s a member of the overall management team. He thinks not in terms of what will make his department look good, but what will be best for the company in the long run. He’s sensitive to the needs of other departments – even when they contradict the short-term needs of his own. The best financial managers aren’t number pushers, they’re strategic business leaders.
When searching for the right financial manager, look at historical data, decision-making abilities, people skills and ability to lead holistically. In addition, you can contact The Finance Team. We use these and other pointers to place part-time or interim finance executives in their most effective roles.
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