The finance function is not what it used to be. In fact, it has changed considerably over the past five to ten years. Whereas finance professionals were once considered number crunchers, now, and regardless of their seniority, they’re important cogs in the business from a strategic standpoint.
Not only has this meant that the function has developed, it has meant that finance leaders have had to cater their skills to a new type of finance professional in order to get the best out of them.
Below, we take a look at the seven most important characteristics for finance leaders.
Every role these days requires you to be an excellent communicator, but it’s absolutely essential for finance leaders. Finance professionals aren’t just expected to communicate effectively within their finance department, but they’re also expected to share both the financial performance and help mould the vision of the company. This involves communicating with the company’s shareholders and keeping them enlightened as to the financial goings-on of the company.
Finance leaders should be apt at both setting targets and meeting them. Although the best finance leaders are results driven by nature, they understand the importance of the targets being measurable and achievable. The board of directors expect targets to be met, so it’s imperative that the finance leader has enough drive to actually lead their team towards them.
Today’s finance leader always has one eye on the future. They instil this vision into their workers and make sure they always work towards cementing the company’s long-term vision. The finance function is very much embedded within the strategic endeavours of a company so it’s vital that forecasts are accurate and planning is thorough.
Finance leaders should be vigilant across the entire organization. They’re equally comfortable dealing with the sales department as they are with marketing. They understand how each and every department fits in with finance and the organization as a whole. This often means that the best financial leaders have to immerse themselves in the operations of their company.
The best leaders are always confident – they know how to address problems in a confident manner and can inspire confidence in their staff. Although finance leaders won’t want their staff to be making unnecessary risks, they won’t want them to be risk adverse either. This will mean that they’ll have to instil a certain degree of confidence in their staff to guarantee that they’re performing to the best of their abilities.
A lot has been said about the new finance leader and the role’s departure from number crunching. But lets be clear on something, finance leaders have to be comfortable with numbers and be able to leverage important insights from them. It’s not so much a question of tallying up a load of figures, but how they can look at data and pinpoint it to specific issues within the organization.
Things go wrong – you could be well off with your planning or interpreted something in a way that it shouldn’t have. What’s important as a financial leader is that you try and rectify your problems in an honest manner and lead your team in an ethical manner. Integrity is imperative in the finance function and the finance leader should act as an example for the rest of the department.