6 Characteristics of Successful FDs


Finance Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Finance pros

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Financial Directors have a big responsibility on their shoulders, so what traits do you need to succeed in this job and what characteristics will make you successful?

Article 3 Minutes
6 Characteristics of Successful FDs

Being a Financial Director (FD) isn't an easy job, but it's one that can be extremely rewarding and beneficial to the wider company. The role itself has changed dramatically in recent years, with the traditional 'number crunching' being just one aspect of what makes a modern FD. It means many people in this position are having much more influence on the business model and its overall strategy, with their expertise in finance being extremely valuable.

With such a big responsibility on their shoulders, it's important that professionals in this role are able to nurture the right characteristics to make them more effective. Here are six characteristics that some of the most successful Financial Directors have shared:

Understanding data

We all know that Financial Directors spend a lot of their time balancing numbers, but the most effective ones are able to transform this into something that people throughout the company can understand. It's not an effective use of time to have everyone sifting through large chunks of data just to get the answers they need, so translating it into information they can quickly absorb quickly is key for FDs. For this, you'll need to look outside spreadsheets and find tools that can help you determine the keynotes of data.

Being adaptive and proactive

The benefits of being able to digest data quickly and efficiently are only truly realized if you are able to adapt accordingly. In this way, FDs need to prioritize real-time information and make recommendations to allow the organization to benefit from new opportunities. It's important that people in this role have the confidence and autonomy to adapt the current business model based on the most current data to improve the company's opportunities and better prepare for the future.

Valuing the role of tech

Technology plays an important part in the role of Financial Directors, but the greatest professionals understand where it's most valuable and where critical thinking is needed. Finding the software that is best suited to your company can be a hefty investment, especially to ensure all users are well-trained, but it's worthwhile. Identifying which processes can be automated allows you to save time and spend your day doing tasks that need your niche skill set.

Understanding the importance of communication

Most FDs will react well to large chunks of data and be able to interpret it quickly, but people elsewhere in the company may not. Successful Financial Directors need to understand the professionals they are speaking to, and the best ways to communicate the necessary information to them. A spreadsheet full of pie charts and graphs may seem unnecessary to you, but if it makes learning more time-effective for other decision makers, it's a valuable investment.

Being approachable

Financial Directors need to place themselves as a point of contact for both managers and decision makers. To do this effectively, you need to be approachable and have strong personal skills to ensure that people are able to share their issues with you. It's also important that you are a trusted figure in the business, so managers can be honest with you, without fear of recrimination, and have confidence that your response will be necessary and in the best interest of the organization.

Challenging and supporting the CEO

The role of an FD is just as important, if not more so, than that of the CEO and it's important that you are self-assured in your position. There will be times when you need to challenge the standpoint of a CEO and the most effective Financial Directors are able to do this in a way that won't antagonize. This last bit is important, as you need to maintain a good working relationship with the CEO and they need to be confident that you will support them when necessary - and vice versa.

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