Insights into succeeding as an FD

  • 30-06-21
  • David Landau

Finance Directors are the backbone of accounting and finance departments. In a senior executive role, Finance Directors are ultimately responsible for the company’s financial health. They work to establish a financial strategy that keeps the business growth-focused and profitable long-term.

If that sounds like where you would like your career to head, then chances are you are wondering:

  • What does a Finance Director do?
  • How much does a Finance Director earn?
  • What does it take to be a successful Finance Director?

We are here to help answer those questions and give you more insight into how to succeed as a Finance Director in 2021:

Get in the right mindset

The Finance Director role description will give you a basic idea of what is expected of someone in this position, particularly when it comes to the technical aspects required. However, it takes far more than financial acumen to reach this executive level. You will need to understand and embrace technology, or your organisation may not stay current.

Being a Finance Director also means inspiring and leading people. It means getting buy-in from your team and all the company’s various stakeholders. You are influencing change day-to-day, so you need to be a strong communicator. 

In addition, being a Finance Director takes confidence, as you’re going to need to delegate tasks, have difficult conversations, and challenge the CEO and executive team. Financial acumen is a baseline requirement, but you won’t last long without people skills and charisma.​

Build a resume that stands out

A Finance Director's CV usually carries considerable weight — and it should, given that a position at this level in an SME-sized business has a base salary of anywhere between $180k and $300k per year. And you certainly don’t jump straight from university into a Finance Director role. Chances are, you’ve paid your dues, starting in a junior-level accounting role and then progressing up the ladder to middle-level finance positions, gaining valuable experience along the way.

Finance Director interview questions and answers are not for the faint-hearted. The hiring company is going to trust you with millions of dollars or more depending on the organisation, and they’re going to put you through a rigorous selection process to make sure you’re the right fit. You’ll need to demonstrate your track record focusing on business strategy, including company growth and cost-saving initiatives plus your experience leading a team.​

Get good at risk management

Financial forecasts are fickle, and if you don’t leave room in your projections for things to go sideways, then you’ll spend a lot of time explaining yourself. Truly great Finance Directors know how to identify and mitigate risk, create contingency plans, and continually monitor potential risks.

Without risk management, you'll be subject to every change in the market, competitor innovation, or natural disaster. With proper risk management in place, however, you can attempt to predict the future and mitigate — if not eliminate any potential financial risks to the company.

​In summary, to succeed as a Finance Director, these attributes will serve you well - great people and communication skills, a solid technical accounting background, logical career progression, a willingness to continue to learn and embrace change, and last but not least, the ability to make strategic decisions that may or may not be popular with your management team.

If you’re looking to take the next step in your career to a Finance Director role or are hiring one, then give us a call to speak with an accounting recruitment expert and find out how we can help.