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Characteristics of a finance director

02/10/2020

It’s an interesting thought: is it really possible to characterise an entire profession, one which plays such a crucial role in the performance and strategy of businesses in the UK today?

A deeper understanding of the characteristics and skills involved in the role of finance director can help CEOs and recruiters when filling those positions, and can also be hugely beneficial to finance directors themselves.

It can highlight areas they may want to develop, help them realise their own strengths and give them the opportunity to view their role in a new light.

Back in 2013, Hays published a report that examined just that, and came out with some surprising results regarding the characteristics a finance director commonly possesses. Articulate, confident and enthusiastic all took a back seat, with fewer than half of the finance directors surveyed believing them to be personal characteristics that had helped them to succeed in their careers.

Instead, sheer hard work came in at number one, as suggested by 75% of respondents at the time. This was followed by having a proactive nature (67%), credibility (61%) and adaptability (60%). Ambition was only important to 32%.

Raj Gandhi, who leads the Institute of Director course for ‘The Role of the Finance Director’, felt that some of the most important skills for a finance director were strategy, leadership, reporting and recruiting. He also felt that they should display developed soft skills such as communication and have a good sense of risk management.

Gandhi says that the role of a finance director has changed over the years, writing: “Today’s finance director needs to possess and demonstrate a wide range of attributes and skills to deliver against CEO and stakeholder expectations.

“FDs cannot rely solely on academics or the traditional experience of a finance function to steer them through this new evolution of the role.”

For many FDs the past year will have brought new challenges to overcome, and will again have altered what the role may look like within many organisations.

Do you think the above attributes and skills are important a finance director? If not, we’d love to hear what you think are in the comments below.

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