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How to succeed as a Finance Manager

How to succeed as a Finance Manager

by Richard Lloyd Recruitment

How To Succeed As A Fm Resized

​As a Finance Manager, you play a critical role in the organisation where the business looks to you to analyse and interpret their numbers to help drive financial performance.

The typical path of study that is the backbone to the job of a Finance Manager is a degree in finance, accounting or similar, coupled with the completion of a professional accounting qualification such as CA, ACCA, CPA, CIMA or equivalent.

If you look at any Accounting Finance Manager job description, it includes a mix of technical, analytical and management skills. These are typically the main skills you need to succeed in a Finance Manager job, but not the only ones.

Here is an overview of the Finance Manager skills that employers typically will be looking for, in addition to education and qualifications.

Technical skills

If you’re completing a Finance Manager skills assessment, you’ll probably know that the technical skills are the easiest to measure. These are the skills you’ve developed through your studies and years working in accounting and finance roles.

Finance Manager technical skills typically include experience in:

  • Budget management and review

  • Month-end report preparation

  • Business planning, forecasting and reporting based on financial information

  • Financial trend prediction

  • Financial risk mitigation

  • Preparing the annual statutory accounts

  • Submitting taxation returns such as BAS, FBT, GST and liaison with external tax specialists

  • Liaising with external auditors

Technical skills rely on preciseness and accuracy for both recording financial information and forecasting for future performance.

There is also another technical skills element to the Finance Manager's role that has been driven by the technological revolution in finance. Many financial tasks can be automated through technology, but as a Finance Manager, you need to be savvy to understand the pros and cons of the technology and its impact on the company.

Not only that, but you also need to understand how to harness the power of the technology in order to utilise it to its maximum benefit. This is one strategic benefit you can bring to the finance function. As there is a range of tech options across the accounting industry, you may need to either work with the organisation's existing solutions or implement new ones based on the business requirements. For tech-driven projects, Finance Managers need to be adaptable and confident enough to lead the change.

Analytical skills

Although Finance Managers aren’t typically dedicated Analysts, it’s certainly true that to succeed as a Finance Manager, you will need to have an analytical mind and approach to the role.

It’s your analytical skills that can help you to identify patterns and trends in the numbers that can then inform business planning and decisions. This requires a keen eye for detail and problem-solving skills to come up with creative and realistic solutions. You need critical thinking skills to logically connect data points to solutions and ideas and then you need to be able to communicate that analysis effectively, both in report form and through verbal communication to different levels of stakeholders across the organisation.

A strong Finance Manager combines analytical skills with commercial and business acumen. Whatever data sets you’re analysing, you need to do this in the context of the business objectives and industry challenges. Your analytical thinking is what helps to guide business decisions and planning for the future.

Management skills

The technical and analytical skills of a Finance Manager generally tend to be non-negotiable, depending on the extent of the role. But never underestimate the soft management skills you’ll need to succeed.

Some of these management skills you will need throughout your career include:

  • Negotiation

  • Teamwork

  • Leadership

  • Time management

  • Communication

  • Adaptability

  • Transparency

  • Integrity

Finance Managers don’t operate in a silo. You’re part of a team and need to build solid working relationships across the business, with stakeholders at all levels, to enable you to drive results.

If you look at a Finance Manager job description, the success of each of the tasks relies on your colleagues having trust in your abilities. You need to be able to break down complex data and jargon into solutions and insights the business can use to make effective decisions.

As a Finance Manager, you may manage a team of people. At the very least, you will need to work collaboratively as part of a broader team. You’ll need these soft management skills or interpersonal skills such as negotiation, communication and teamwork to succeed.

The final piece of the puzzle for success as a Finance Manager is an ongoing willingness to learn. A successful Finance Manager is always looking to learn and grow their skill set to add more value to their position. A combination of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) that will strengthen your technical skills and leadership or soft skills and address gaps in your management capability will enhance your contribution to your role.

You also need to continually learn about the industry you operate in. In an ever-changing world, industry or market changes can seriously impact your ability to provide accurate budgets and forecasts so you need to be across the trends.

In summary, as a Finance Manager, you need to have a broad skill set of technical, analytical and management skills to succeed. You’ll be a highly valued member of the teams you work in with your ability to give the business the financial information they need to make educated decisions and achieve optimum results.

If you’re looking to take the next step in your career, then give one of our Accounting Recruitment experts a call to find out how we can help.