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Seven habits of highly effective finance directors

To be one of those highly effective finance directors, you have to be up-to-date on all the latest accounting standards, be know the latest developments in tax legislation and spend long hours in your office reviewing reconciliations and signing off VAT returns. That’s right isn’t it? No.
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The FD Centre suggests highly effective finance directors need a rather different set of skills to be effective and “make a difference” in the businesses they work for.

With over 150 finance directors providing FD services to a number of SMEs each on a part time basis, they understand what it takes to be a great FD!

Here are the top seven habits for effective finance directors:

1) Competence

There’s no getting away from it that an accounting qualification and experience gained being a real life FD counts for a lot. Finance directors will be judged initially on how well they keep the score, solve financial problems in the business and direct management attention to the things that matter financially. Although it starts here, this is not where it stops! Other key habits are:

2) Bean growing, not bean counting

Highly effective finance directors should come with business, commercial and strategic skills that are super strong. Super financial skills are merely a pre-requisite.

3) Team orientation

Teamwork is key for the modern day FD. As well as the ability to build their own team, highly effective FDs must be able to work effectively with the management team of the business and develop relationships outside the business to provide a strong network of support professionals.

4) People skills

“Soft skills” are the hard skills these days. Managing down, across and most importantly up to MDs and business owners is key. Being a great FD and doing the FD “stuff” is not sufficient in adding real value to the business. People need to be brought with you.

5) Communication

The way you communicate and get your point across is critical to making a difference. Influence and persuasion skills are massively important to be highly effective.

6) Passionate

Yes “passionate”. High energy levels and having some fun is an important factor in effectiveness. What FDs do is a serious business, but it doesn’t have to be dour, and nobody likes a bore!

7) Sharpen the Saw

Keeping fresh and finding time to keep up to date is vital in this fast moving world. This relates to all the effectiveness habits not just technical skills!

FDs who want to make a difference to their businesses should work on these habits to become highly effective. Those that can master all these skills will find themselves in very high demand!

Colin Mills is founder and CEO of The FD Centre 

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