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Halliday Marx Visions

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Finance managers play a critical role in analysing and interpreting the financial performance of their business to help drive growth.

The typical career path is a finance-related degree (accounting or similar), combined with a professional accounting qualification such as ACA. However, if you look at any finance manager role, it will include a mix of technical, analytical and management skills as the main skills required to succeed in the role, but they aren’t the only ones.

Here is an overview of the skills that employers will be looking for and often won’t list in their job description. 

Technical skills

Technical skills are developed through your years of study and experience in previous finance roles. They are the easiest to measure and rely on precision and accuracy for both recording financial information and forecasting future performance.

You will be expected to have experience in:

  • Budget management and review
  • Month-end report preparation
  • Business planning, forecasting and reporting based on financial information
  • Financial trend prediction
  • Financial risk mitigation
  • Preparing the annual statutory accounts
  • Submitting taxation returns and liaising with external tax specialists
  • Liaising with external auditors

Modern finance roles have changed with the introduction of new technology. So, whilst many financial tasks can now be automated, the modern finance manager has to understand the pros and cons of the technology and how it can be harnessed to create maximum benefit.

As there is a range of tech options across the accounting industry, you may need to either work with the organisation’s existing solutions or implement new ones based on the business requirements. For tech-driven projects, finance managers need to be adaptable and confident enough to lead the change.

John Marx, Director of Halliday Marx says “A good finance manager excels at analysing and interpreting figures, but a great finance manager is adaptable and confident enough to lead the charge into future technologies that can drive the business on to bigger and better things.”

Analytical skills

Your analytical thinking is what helps to guide business decisions and planning for the future. Being able to record and forecast figures is just one part of being a successful finance manager. To succeed in the role you will need an analytical approach to be able to identify patterns and trends in the numbers that can inform future business planning.

A strong candidate will combine a keen eye for detail with problem-solving skills and commercial and business acumen to develop creative and realistic solutions in the context of business objectives and industry challenges. 

Management skills

Technical and analytical skills are generally non-negotiable, but never forget that you’re part of a team. As a successful finance manager, you don’t operate in a silo and will be expected to build solid working relationships across the business, with stakeholders at all levels and departments, to enable you to drive meaningful results.

Even where you are not directly responsible for managing a team of people, at the very least, you will be expected to work collaboratively as part of a broader team.

Some of these management skills you will need throughout a successful career include:

  • Negotiation
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Time management
  • Communication
  • Adaptability
  • Transparency
  • Integrity

If you look at a finance manager job description, the success of each of the aspects of the role will be reliant on your colleagues trusting your abilities. John Marx, director of Halliday Marx adds ”To be considered successful in your role you have to be able to break down complex data and jargon into simple concepts. If you can take that data and present solutions and insights that the business can use to make effective decisions then you are directly contributing to the success of the business.”

The final piece of the puzzle for a successful finance manager is an ongoing willingness to learn and add more value to their position. A combination of strengthening your technical skills and leadership or soft skills and addressing gaps in your management capability will enhance your contribution to your role.

You also need to continually learn about the industry you operate in. In an ever-changing world, industry or market changes can seriously impact your ability to provide accurate budgets and forecasts so you need to be across the trends so you aren’t left behind. 

At Halliday Marx, we understand the critical role that a great finance manager can play in the success of a business so if you would like any more advice on applying for or recruiting a finance manager in London please contact us on 020 7096 8200 or email us at [email protected]

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