I have had conversations with a few clients recently who are looking to recruit an experienced Financial Director (FD) into their business. The reasons to fill the position are varying, either due to the growth of their business, internal changes or simply as personnel move onto a new role, creating a vacancy.
The pandemic has no doubt had an impact on recruitment – at all levels of experience and industry sector – but for SMEs looking to grow and take on a FD to support the growth or development of their business, their need is real and it’s a pivotal role to fill.
These vacancies have left a gap, in more ways than one – the seeming shortage of FDs is concerning, but is this because experienced FDs are reluctant to move on the back of an uneasy and possibly turbulent 18 months in their current role, or are there other reasons?
Across many sectors there is a real skill shortage and recruitment is very challenging. This is certainly the case across the finance sector. Job security is key to us all and employers are also actively looking to hold onto their key employees through different type of financial and non-financial rewards. It’s difficult to be able instantly recruit to fill that vacancy in the current job market.
A small, but growing business doesn’t always need a full-time FD. Often an experienced part-time individual can provide all the support required, while being a sounding board for the business owner or directors, but not necessarily working in the business five days a week. This could take the form of a regular role within the business, two days per week, for example or to support the business for a set period of, say, six months.
Another alternative is an outsourced FD. Someone who is there when you need them; to provide an experienced extension to the director team; has a detailed knowledge and understanding of forecasts and financial modelling; can interpret the numbers; and has experience in many aspects of funding and tax. If you find the right person, they can bring years of experience working with similar businesses, they also understand what the outside world reads into the financial performance of the business and can take on the important sounding board role. Don’t underestimate the value someone from outside of the business can bring, in terms of a fresh and unbiased view of the business; someone who is not and does not need to be involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.
If your business has a need of some form of FD support or outside sounding board, spend some time thinking about what that role is and the length of time you need that assistance for, before appointing someone. Understand what you want from that role and the type of skills needed. That person should be someone who listens to you and understands the needs of the business, can be part of your team and is above all, delivers that key advice.
Below are the key attributes I believe should be provided within an outsourced senior finance role:
- Understands the business and is able to articulate the challenges that it’s facing
- Have the appropriate level of financial knowledge and understanding
- Be adaptable to the needs of the business and have the ability to wear lots of different hats when circumstance dictate
- Be timely with advice and delivery. Have the time to immerse themselves within the business – and to understand what makes it work
- Be prepared to question and to be that financial sounding board
Inspire works with many clients to provide that trusted advice, experience and expertise as part of our FD on Demand service. We know and understand the demands that business owners face and take the time to work with you, to listen and to provide the very best business advice, geared solely towards your business’ planning, growth and success.
You can also hear more advice on bringing in an outsourced financial sounding board to your business, in our latest 2 + 2 podcast.
To find out more about, please get in touch with the team at Inspire who will be happy to help you.