Every company in the world needs someone to take care of their finances. It could be in the form of a company accountant, a finance manager, a bookkeeper or a high-flying CFO. Finance directors come in various shapes and sizes, but they are undoubtedly everywhere! With so many finance directors around, it becomes difficult to distinguish yourself from the pack. What makes the difference between an average finance director – of which there are hundreds of thousands – and a top class finance director, of which there are considerably fewer?
1. Double vision. A high caliber finance director is able to see the big picture and simultaneously have a fine eye for detail.
As a finance director, it’s crucial to be able to see all the problems the business faces in context of its overall vision. Where does the business plan to go and what does it hope to become? If the business is facing a dip in sales, is this due to external factors such as economic conditions in the country, or is it due to something that needs to be changed internally?
At the same time, a really good finance director can look over a cash flow forecast and spot one wrong number within minutes. He or she needs to be able to oversee the financial calculations of the business and ensure their accuracy. A great finance director derives satisfaction from both big picture work and detail work. He or she is both a box-ticker and a visionary.
2. Builds strong relationships with the operational business team
An unfortunate stereotype about accounting staff has arisen, which is that they are not known for their people skills. The personality types that are drawn to financial roles are often introverted and self-sufficient, preferring to work by themselves rather than in a team. But top class finance directors recognise the importance of building relationships with the people and teams surrounding them. They know that their own success is contingent on how well the sales, production or service teams carry out their own mandates.
As the finance director, you’re required to communicate your budget expectations with all other department heads. Sometimes these are difficult conversations to have, and inevitably, there will be a few people who are dissatisfied with their department’s budget allocation. A skilled finance director can get other managers to buy into the budgeting planning and control process. They foster a collaborative process rather than the “us versus them” attitude that sometimes arises when other leaders are not on board.
3. Copes with change – on the double
Exchange rates change every day. The price of commodities is constantly in flux. Inflation goes up and down every month. Interest rates can change regularly. These and other factors drastically affect your company’s ability to do business, the amount of cash coming in, and the amount you can afford to go out.
An average finance director reacts to the changes. He alters forecasts and informs the CEO of the impact of environmental fluctuations. A top class finance director anticipates the changes. She stays in touch with factors that could affect sales or production in the business. He conducts scenario plans outlining possible situations. When change happens, she acts on it by managing for the outcome. He makes quick, confident decisions based on effective planning and the confidence afforded to him by insight, experience and preparation.
The finance director who wishes to be distinguished from the crowd needs to hone in on these three skills. If you’re wondering where to find a professional who exhibits these strengths, The Finance Team can provide one. We have a network of highly qualified, experienced associates who can assist your company on a part-time or interim basis.
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