What is the role of the finance director?

The finance director is often viewed as the member of the board who creates a solid foundation upon which a business can grow. If you want to make the step up to Finance Director (FD) it is also essential that you have the communications skills to match your ability to ‘do the numbers’. Here we outline what the role entails as well as expert advice on what sort of questions any FD should be expected to answer.

Main purpose of job

To contribute to the attainment of the company’s business objectives by:

  • Providing strategic and financial guidance to ensure that the company’s financial commitments are met
  • Developing all necessary policies and procedures to ensure the sound financial management and control of the company’s business
“Like a football team you need a good goalkeeper and you need a good goal scorer, and one can’t cope without the other”
Jerry Wales
Former FD M&C Saatchi

Main responsibilities

  • Direct and control finance staff to ensure that they are appropriately motivated and developed and so that they carry out their responsibilities to the required standard.
  • Contribute to the achievement of the company’s business objectives by providing advice and guidance on financial strategy.
  • Develop and control the company’s annual operating budget to ensure that all financial targets are met and financial and statutory regulations complied with.
  • Provide financial advice and guidance to the company’s managers and staff to enable them to achieve their objectives.
  • Oversee the preparation of the company’s financial accounts to ensure that these are presented accurately and on time.
  • Develop and implement an internal audit programme to ensure that the company complies with financial procedures and regulations.
  • Develop and maintain all necessary systems, policies and procedures to ensure effective and efficient financial management within the company.
  • Monitor external contracts and services provided by suppliers to ensure that these are operating effectively and provide the best value to the company.
  • Carry out all necessary actions to ensure that the company meets its financial and legal obligations
“The title is Finance Director and the word director means something…it isn’t controller and it isn’t risk manager but director, which means you have to get on and make decisions”
Paul Venables
Group FD Hays PLC

Knowledge, skills and experience required

Of course, you need to be a good financial analyst but it doesn’t end there. As a member of the board it is your ability to successfully communicate that will make you stand out as an effective FD.

  • Extensive senior level accountancy experience.
  • Significant managerial experience.
  • Knowledge of the industry.
  • Strategic thinking skills.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills.
“Rule No. 1 : Never lose money. Rule No. 2 : Never forget Rule No. 1.”
Warren Buffet

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