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The year ahead: Views from top FDs

In the build-up to the 2013 FDs’ Excellence Awards, in association with ICAEW, the UK’s top finance directors take a look at the upcoming 12 months. First, here’s an insight from Kevin Boyd, CFO at Oxford Instruments, 2011 FD of the Year for quoted companies outside the FTSE 350):

“Visibility is certainly a bit less as a result of the economic cycle. And we re seeing some softness in industrial markets. It’s not looking worse, but neither is it definitively better for 2013. But it’s important to retain perspective. It doesn’t appear to be anywhere near as bad as 2008/09, and that relative stability is important. In terms of our own growth, nanotechnology is where we ve seen the most activity, mostly organic but also through acquisition. We d expect that to continue in 2013.

“The value of the business is up almost sixfold over the past six years, so we ve been through the transition from small to mid-cap with all that means for a finance function, building up a tax team, developing internal audit functions, revamping our ERP systems and so on.

“There are plenty of opportunities for the finance team in 2013. The Patent Box legislation looks interesting and we re working on how to use that. And R&D tax credits moving ‘above the line’ is another one. We ve got to secure the maximum benefit from that shift. But it’s hard to generalise, every FD and every business is facing a different set of challenges in 2013.

“My advice for fellow FDs is to communicate better with all your stakeholders. Finance can sometimes lapse into navel-gazing, which is a loss because it can do so much for the rest of the organisation. It’s about explaining the numbers and helping people within the business make better decisions.

“Externally, finance has to maintain great communications with customers, suppliers and shareholders. That’s also about making the numbers understandable. You have to be a good storyteller, creating a narrative that gives people context for their decisions.”

The FDs’ Excellence Awards, in association with ICAEW, are the most prestigious national recognition for UK FDs, financial controllers; and the service providers that support them. 

You can make a nomination in four categories (deadline is March 1, 2013):

  • Young FD of the Year – high-performance finance directors under 40
  • Private Company FD of the Year – finance directors going above the call of duty in a non-quoted company
  • FD of the Future – high-potential financial controllers, finance managers and VPs who are tomorrow’s CFOs and FDs
  • Inspirational FD – a new award for leading finance directors whose work goes beyond finance and inspires others in their business, market and community

Or you can rate the service provided by your bank, auditor, recruiter, financial software firm and other key advisers, in our annual Satisfaction Survey. 

The FDs’ Excellence Awards are hosted by Real Business, and supported by the CBI, London Evening Standard, Ernst & Young, Lloyds Banking Group and business information partner Jordans.

This article was first published in ICAEW magazine, economia,. We’ll be sharing more top FD views in the coming days.


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