Finance professionals are increasingly being asked to weigh in on strategic decisions when it comes to running a company, making them perfect candidates to take on management positions. This was made all the more clear when we spoke to Julian Winfield from Hoist Finance, who recently made the transition from CFO to country manager.
Winfield seems to have dedicated his career to the financial services sector – more than 20-years worth – having worked at Shop Direct Group as an FD and been Paymentshield’s CFO. Now, after joining Salford-based Hoist Finance UK in 2014 as the head of finance, Winfield finds himself taking on the role of country manager.
We took the opportunity to find out the optimal path for such a transition by asking Winfield a few questions – and quizzed him on Brexit and the finance professional’s many hats while we were at it.
1) Having been part of the finance sector through roles such as financial controller, what led to the transition from CFO to country manager?
It almost felt like a natural progression for me. All of my roles, even though predominantly in finance, have involved influencing and building the company strategy and direction, so becoming the country manager was the next logical step in my journey with Hoist.
2) How has your career in finance prepared you to go from CFO to country manager?
Working in finance has given me a strong platform in the understanding the mechanics of a business. Alongside that I have an MBA, which has proven to be the perfect partner in enhancing my overall skill set to prepare me for the Country Manager role.
3) What is your advice for CFOs similarly looking to become country manager?
For me this comes down to the passion you have for people. The transition from CFO to country manager entails putting on a different lens on the way you view the business and its priorities. For anyone thinking about making the jump, remember, a manager cannot perform well with one approach in his/her arsenal; versatile thinking is a vital requirement for the job.
4) With strategy being key to both CFO and country manager roles, what does yours entail when it comes to Host Finance’s growth?
Hoist’s employees place a continued focus on customers to ensure that we always deliver the right outcomes. The centre of our growth strategy is the customer; it really is as simple as that.
5) Do you believe finance professionals need to wear numerous hats nowadays?
Absolutely. Over the last few years business has started looking at finance differently. Finance professionals really believe in their ability to run businesses, and so they should. Long gone are the days of just adding up the numbers; it’s now about understanding all aspects of the business to make well-informed commercial decisions. At a time when financial rigour is so critical it would be easy to neglect that there are so many other crucial aspects to the role, including being a key influencer.
6) In an uncertain time period, from Brexit, Donald Trump’s election and the weakened pound, has there been much change in the sector?
I know the recent changes have had a ripple effect in the uncertainty of the market, but for me I don’t feel much has changed. We all know the financial market is an evolving beast and as always we will continue to watch the economy and remain close to our advisors should we need to change our approach.