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Financial professionals re-examining their roles

16 January 2015 Candidate Blogs

Why finance has gone from being the number crunchers to partners in strategy


A number of key events over the last 5 years have led financial professionals to re-examine their roles. What is different now?

Since the global financial crisis the importance of the CFO has risen dramatically, but it’s not just this event that has propelled them and their functional department into the limelight – finance professionals have gone from being the principle number crunchers to partners in strategy.

The finance function makes two essential contributions to the business; understanding costs and how these translate into outputs that turn profits. This isn’t just about doing the maths, the soul of the challenge lies along a continuum of thinking from; quantifying the value of using alternative delivery models and understanding the dynamics of the business through to ensuring that the organisation has the right structure and skills in place, and that the truth on how to report value is balanced and rigorously upheld in one place. The finance function not only plays a critical role in supporting the business but asks the right questions armed with the right information in order to create it.

In recent months we’ve seen a major retailer wipe billions off their share price following the discovery that its profits had been artificially inflated by some £250m due to a discrepancy between when profits were accounted for from deals with suppliers and when costs were paid. Yet it wasn’t just the accounting errors that raised eyebrows but the sheer way in which eventually the story unfolded. It’s hard to understand why a whistle blower accountant should have to go through a protracted route and through many actors that eventually involved in-house counsel to report concerns; a true indication that all was not well with the culture and structure of the business.

This event, although being a high profile is just one of a number of other types of events that have changed the face of finance for good, not necessarily as a result of misdemeanours, but global incidents, structural change, tax and regulation that conspire together to make the finance function a strategic pin that not only holds everything in place but takes decisions from having better information in a wider context. Commercial deals may not be that commercial if they are not structured in the right way, operational success only comes from efficient and effective delivery of service and products and leadership rewarded from having the right contextual information…the banks may learn a lesson or two from here.

In many businesses today finance has a leading role in innovation that can be financed from tax credits with business strategy that uses finance to create additional and increased value from new business models and playing a critical part in the structures that will deliver this. All this and more finance managers are embracing a more strategic role. They are no longer the number crunchers but delivering the right balance of stability for a sustainable future.  This new dawn has an impact on skills where the qualification is just the foundation. Finance professionals are destined for a very creative and commercial career where nurturing the right attributes can lead to one of the most important roles in the organisation.

Morgan Hunt is a specialist recruiter in the finance sector and offer a consultative service to help you and your organisation find the kind of finance skills that will ensure the continuity of your mission. For more information call 020 7419 8900 or email us.


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