At Miles Partnership, we are often asked to comment on what defines those who succeed in leadership and nearly every time our answer is relationships, the same applies just as easily to the Finance profession.
The formation of the traditional, well-rounded Finance Director is well-trod. Very simply put, early experience in practice and the ACA qualification followed by a couple of years each in Financial Control and FP&A and then perhaps a division before making the move to lead the entire business is the typical route. Alternately the in-industry training offered by the CIMA qualification is attractive and the path to Finance Director there-on similar. Other routes involving Treasury and M&A are highly relevant, business dependent.
The ability to build consensus, drive change and transformation through engaging broadly across the business, and using influence to bring people forward in collaboration is always key. These relationships are not just internal business relationships, but of significant note those that evolve to work closely with the regulator, service providers and the industry at large are often seen to thrive as leaders.
More recently it has been seen that technical specialism can draw many to be expert in, for instance, regulatory reporting, and career trajectory can suffer to the demands of depth of experience over the breadth needed to lead an entire business as Finance Director.
Building Societies today are increasingly having to look outside their own organisations for their future Finance leaders because of this and are surprised to find availability of well-rounded finance leaders limited. This increase in demand for silo’d specialism at earlier stages in a career is often the culprit.
Our counsel is often to look earlier for succession planning – put in place a Head of Finance, a Deputy Finance Director, an FD-designate or revert to the graduate trainee style career profile and equip high potential leaders with the breadth of experience they need to succeed.
The Building Society sector would also attract more talent from those jaded within the wider banking sector if the remuneration was more competitive. Over the years we have seen many societies recognize this and also more variable pay is being introduced. Money is often not the main driver for a career move but it is a hygiene factor.
Relationships and breadth of experience continue to hang together as cornerstones of successful leaders, irrespective of function. The challenge for the modern day Financial Services Finance Director, and the industry at large, is to find a happy medium and to be appropriately inventivised.
For advice please contact Deborah Cooper, Partner. Head of Financial Services, Miles Partnership.