Top class financial executives are hard to find. They have to be organised, strategic thinkers, have a keen attention to detail, and above all be trustworthy. Becoming a top class financial executive doesn’t just happen overnight, it is a process that happens over a period time. Whilst having the right qualification is a must, one of the biggest contributing factors when seeking top class financial executives is the quality and amount of experience they have had within a variety of industries.
Financial executives are often regarded in the business world as managers of financial departments only, but the top financial executivesin many companies have more than just financial expertise. In order to be the best financial executive, one has to embody the qualities of a successful manager as well as that of a financial expert.
Listed below are 3 qualities of a top class financial executive (NOT EXHAUSTIVE BY ANY MEANS):
A commitment to professional ethics should always be the foundation of every financial executive’s operating principles.
1. Planning and Implementation
A financial executive at Financial Manager or Financial Director level should NOT be getting involved in the day to day debits and credits of the business. This is the role of data capture clerks and bookkeepers. The financial executive can never be effective or cost efficient if they are getting bogged down in transactional record keeping. The best financial executives that we have worked with all have one thing in common; they have the ability to quickly identify weaknesses, come up with an effective action plan and then effectively implement these plans. The areas of weakness that they tend to focus on are human capital (specifically those reporting to them), internal controls, lack of policies and procedures, inadequate reporting, budgeting and forecasting.
Implementation is critical. Accountants are generally very good and coming up with solutions as it is drummed into them over years of theoretical and practical training but very few are good at the implementation phase of the solution. I think that this is because most top level financial executives are high on IQ but tend to lack in the EQ department. Lack of EQ can be overcome through years of practical experience at the coal face.
2. Understanding Business Processing
Financial executives don’t just need to understand how money flows through a company—they need to understand key business processes in order to be successful. An understanding of business processes allows a finance executive to find the root cause offinancial loss and help design processes that will be more effective and efficient. Knowledge of business processes can help you find ways to minimize costs within the company and add value to the business.
3. Delegation & Management
Following on from point 1 above, implementation is almost impossible without the skill of delegation and management. One of the first elements that our Associates look at when they go to a client is the quality of the financial staff reporting through to them. It makes no difference how brilliant you may be as a Financial Manager or Financial Director, if you cany delegate work to competent staff you will never be effective in your role. If your assessment is that the financial resources are lacking in your environment we would suggest you get that right before you look at anything else. Hand in Hand with this is then the ability to manage those staff members reporting to you. This is a difficult skill and does not come naturally to everybody. The ability to assign responsibilities and then measure performance against these responsibilities will be critical to your success in this area.
Contrary to popular belief, being a top class financial executive is not all about being proficient at the “hard” skills usually associated with being a Financial Manager or Financial Director but it is almost as important to be proficient at many of the “soft” skills that one needs to master when dealing with the human element common to all companies.