For many companies the line between financial director (FD) and chief financial officer (CFO) is blurred, but generally the latter will have more say in the direction of the company and the best ways to drive growth. This, alongside a bigger paycheck, comes with more responsibilities, which can make the jump between the two roles seem like a massive step.
But how can you ensure that you are prepared to take the leap? If you are proactive about your career progression, there's no reason why you can't acquire the skills you need to be a successful CFO while in the FD role.
As a CFO, you'll need to interact with other people at the very top of the business. From CEOs to MDs and even owners, it's likely that you will need to take part in meetings in which you discuss matters that could decide the company's success or failure in the future. All of the people present will have their own priorities and goals.
Everyone thinks their own area of expertise is crucial to the success of the business and it's important that you can get your points across clearly, while understanding and respecting theirs. You can prove this while being an FD by showing that you are a strong team player; are able to listen to the motivations of multiple people but still make the overall task a success.
Innovation and creativity may sound like two skills that couldn't be further away from finance, but this isn't the case. Both are crucial parts of having a successful business, and something that any CFO will need to be comfortable with. One of the biggest changes between being an FD and a CFO is that you will be responsible for identifying opportunities that could help drive growth in the business. Innovation and being able to think creatively about options is a key part of this, and something you'll need to be confident in doing.
Doing this in an FD role can seem like a challenge, as you won't necessarily have the authority to drive new ideas, but never underestimate the power of enthusiasm. Showing that you have new ideas in brainstorms and meetings, that you are up to date on the latest industry developments and are willing to adapt to change will all speak in your favor when a CFO role comes up.
As Big Data becomes a more important part of business, any CFO will need to be comfortable understanding analytics and drawing conclusions from them. Crunching numbers is something that you'll be confident in from your time as an FD, but you need to take this to the next level to be a strong CFO candidate. You'll need to be able to recommend what changes the CEO makes to the business off the back of the statistics to drive more growth in the next quarter.
You can prove this during your time as an FD by taking the time to understand analytics and read up on how Big Data is likely to impact business in the future.