A lot of people struggle to progress into a Finance Director role, especially from a mid level position, but that’s not to say that it’s impossible. Many finance candidates feel as though they have grown as much as they can do as a Financial Controller, and the next logical step is stepping into a role as Finance Director, which would allow them to further their career. However, this step is a big one and it’s something a lot of individuals find daunting.
If you are thinking about climbing the ladder and becoming a Finance Director, help is certainly out there. Below, we have given some of our top tips, as well as advice from a handful of the industry’s key players.
4 Tips to Help You Become a Finance Director
1. Don’t Forget About People
When you are working towards becoming a Finance Director, it’s easy to forget about the people. As Andy Muir, Chief Financial Officer at Green Park Interim & Executive Search, explains: “It's a people-driven business. Never lose sight of that. It's partly what makes the job unpredictable, exciting and challenging in equal measure. Develop agile strategies that support the people goals of the business.”
As a role, a Finance Director is centred around numbers and figures, but the people you work with are just as important. You need to be able to inspire, lead and motivate those around you. Being a Finance Director relies heavily on the work of your team.
2. Have a Holistic View of the Company
As a Finance Director, you need to look at the bigger picture. When you are in a leadership role, it’s important to have a holistic view of everything that’s happening within the organisation, rather than simply focusing on the task in front of you.
Hiral Patel, Head of Finance at Human Capital, explains how a Finance Director needs to be prepared to get stuck into all aspects of the business. He says: "Most decisions, issues and problems will have aspects of Finance. Don’t be afraid to use your voice. Most Sales directors appreciate your suggestions/point of views and their confidence grows in you and in yourself."
3. Build Relationships and Connect With Stakeholders
Being a Finance Director requires you to work closely with others within the business, such as the CEO and other stakeholders. It’s important for a Finance Director to collaborate with those in other roles, and work alongside them at all times, with the same goals in mind. This could require you to question decisions, offer alternative suggestions and put forward your own ideas.
One Finance Director explained that being successful in the recruitment sector means connecting with stakeholders and adding value to the service. This can be done via “ enhanced reporting, improved efficiencies, and automation”. They believe working in this way “ will enable the business to evolve and grow through clear direction, process and increased productivity.”
4. Know the Difference Between a Finance Director and Financial Controller
Though the role of a Finance Director is similar to that of a Financial Controller, there are some key differences that you should be aware of. In order to transition into a Finance Director position, you need to analyse your skills and determine what additional knowledge, skills and capabilities are needed for the new role. Though you will be doing a lot of work as a Financial Controller, being a Finance Director does require more.
It’s not enough to simply have the desire to become a Finance Director, you need to set yourself up for success. As Harry Hewson, Associate Director Finance at Camino Search states, “assess your skill-set, embrace as many operational/financial challenges as possible and constantly search for ways to top up your repertoire. Maximise this peak time of development, enhance your personal brand and then the Finance Director title will come.”
Are you looking for your next Finance role? Upload your CV and we can find your next role which allows you to progress.