Finance directors have to be more than just number crunchers.
There is no shortage of technically competent accountants, but recruiting a good finance director is another matter. As a prerequisite, they should have a recognised accountancy qualification and, depending on the business, one may be more relevant than another.
A finance director needs to be a good manager first and an accountant second. They must have at least five years of wide-ranging experience - not just five years as an auditor in a big accountancy firm. This should include setting budgets, forecasting, working with auditors and external bodies or individuals such as investors and banks. They should also have up-to-date knowledge of accounting standards, tax, legal and compliance issues. Check with professional advisers, such as accountants or auditors, whether they have the right experience, or invest in the services of a specialist headhunter.
The candidates must be able to fit into the senior management team. They need business acumen and commercial awareness to contribute positively to the business strategy, as well as leadership and people management skills. They should not take an isolationist approach to work and need to keep up with wider issues such as the millennium bug and Emu. Finding these skills in one person is difficult. Small businesses should expect to pay between £40,000 and £50,000 per year for the privilege.
Paula Crawford is a recruitment consultant at BDO Stoy Hayward
0171 486 5888.