A strong Finance Manager is vital to a successful business, keeping costs in check to ensure the business stays growing and stays profitable, and to maintain cash flow. However, getting it wrong can have an even bigger impact. So what are the most salient things to look for in recruiting someone to look after your business’ money?
- Relevant qualifications and experience
It might go without saying, but it’s perhaps more important in the accounts department than any other business function that you have staff who know what they’re doing. An AAT qualification is the minimum you would expect someone to have, but a CIMA qualification is the ideal – this is a costly qualification to pursue, both in monetary terms and in the time and effort that must be put in to achieve it. If you can’t get the candidates who have it, relevant experience is a must, and we’d recommend supporting staff financially to pursue it.
Finance Manager is not an entry-level job title: someone will have significant experience before getting to the role, most likely as an all-round accounts assistant. However, the duties and responsibilities of the accounts department will vary depending on your industry, so focus your search for experience there. Services companies will have very different balance sheets to manufacturing businesses who have money tied up in assets like machinery and stock so even though the job specification might be much the same on paper, the expertise of different aspects of accounting will vary wildly. The same goes for the size and type business they’ve worked for previously – a multi-million pound plc will have very different accounts to a family run limited company.
2. Communications skills
In a more technical function like accounts, it’s easy to forget that your finance department need to communicate effectively too. They might not be customer facing (with the exception of Credit Controllers), but a Finance Manager is the gatekeeper to funds for other departments to spend. The best Finance Managers will be the ones who can collaborate and negotiate with other business functions – not simply hold the purse strings open or shut.
Finance Managers will also have responsibility for managing other members of staff. The best candidates will be the ones who can motivate this team, delegate responsibilities and offering training and support as well.
3. Strategic thinking
The final thing to look for in a Finance Manager is their commercial awareness: their understanding of how the accounts department fits into a business’ wider goals, the understanding that accounts can be a strategic part of the business and not just a necessary function to ensure it keeps running. After all, accounts is responsible for setting budgets and allocating spending, as well as potentially sourcing incoming investment too. The Finance Manager needs to take an active interest in how other departments are spending money and ask questions like “have costly employee benefits delivered improved productivity?” or “has all the money spent on advertising brought in a return on investment?”.
For more help and advice in recruiting for Accounting and Finance professionals at all levels in Stockport and South Manchester, get in touch with our specialist consultant for this area, Jacqui Francis-Lamont.