How to Secure a Finance Manager Position

By Linda RoperJune 14, 2023

Considered the heartbeat of every organisation, financial management ensures a company is financially sound and prepared for both short-term and long-term growth. And one of the leading roles within this area is the finance manager, an individual who orchestrates the financial symphony that drives a business's success.

If you’ve ever thought about moving into finance, this article is for you! We’re going to delve into the duties, responsibilities and skills of a successful finance manager, as well as provide the steps to securing yourself a role within financial management.

Finance manager sitting on a table and making notes in her diary from her laptopTable of Contents

Duties of a Finance Manager

First, let’s talk about a typical day in the life of a finance manager. Since they are responsible for monetary management, they must help steer the company’s investment direction whilst also keeping note of expenses and financial obligations. Here are the typical duties of a Finance Manager:

Financial Analysis and Planning: In this role, you will need to analyse financial trends, prepare budgets, create financial forecasts, and help guide the company in financial planning and key decision-making.

Cash Management: From managing petty cash and business expenses to ensuring funds are readily available for business growth, you will be tasked with maintaining relationships with financial service providers.

Investment Evaluation: Finance managers will also evaluate potential business investments to ensure they align with the company's financial strategy and risk tolerance. This is where future-proofing comes into play.

Financial Reporting: Daily duties may involve preparing financial statements, month-end reports, financial position forecasts, and annual budget reporting.

Yellow sign saying career path ahead in black writing in front of blue background with white clouds, building and a road drawn on it.Your Pathway to Becoming a Finance Manager

Becoming a finance manager involves a blend of formal education, practical experience, and a specialised skill set. So let’s go through each one.

Educational Qualifications: A Bachelor's degree in Finance, Accounting, Economics, or Business Administration is generally required. However, many organisations today prefer candidates with a Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) or a related field. Some finance managers also hold professional qualifications such as CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) or CPA (Certified Public Accountant).

Work Experience: Hands-on experience is always valuable and prior experience in finance-related roles is crucial in securing a senior managerial role within finance. This can include positions like Financial Analyst, Accountant, or Auditor.

Finance Manager Must-Have Skills

A successful finance manager needs a mix of technical, strategic, and leadership skills. These include financial reporting abilities, understanding of regulatory compliance, strategic planning, analytical skills, and excellent communication and leadership capabilities.

Personality Traits and STEM in Financial Management

Certain personality traits and skills can significantly enhance a finance manager's success, many of which align with the proficiencies developed through STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.

Analytical thinking for instance, is a cornerstone of STEM, and is often considered paramount for this position. This is because finance managers need to dissect complex financial reports, forecasts, and regulatory guidelines, interpreting the data to make informed decisions. They must also possess strong mathematical skills to manage budgets, forecast financial trends, and assess the financial impact of business decisions.

Problem-solving is another skill honed by STEM studies and finance managers can use it when faced with intricate financial challenges that require innovative solutions. They must troubleshoot these issues swiftly and efficiently, making strategic decisions under pressure.

Every financial report, every audit, and every projection must be meticulously accurate. A small error can lead to significant repercussions for a company. That’s why having a keen eye for detail and edging on being a perfectionist is also preferred. Although with the introduction of AI and machine learning, human error is less of a concern these days. But this does mean you would need to be able to adapt to new technology as the company adopts it.

In essence, the traits and skills needed to excel in financial management often intersect with those fostered by a STEM education. This confluence underscores the importance of a solid STEM foundation for those aspiring to become successful Finance Managers.

Career Progression Opportunities for Finance Managers

What you might be keen to hear is that the role of a finance manager can actually serve as a launchpad to more senior-level positions within the financial industry. With experience and proven skills, finance managers can ascend into roles such as:

Director of Finance: This role involves overseeing all financial activities within a company and making critical financial decisions that could involve substantial financial gain or risk.

Chief Financial Officer (CFO): This is often the ultimate goal for many in the finance field. As a CFO, you'd be responsible for the overall financial strategy of the organisation, making a significant impact on the company's growth and success.

Challenges Faced by Finance Managers Today

With any career, there will naturally be challenges to overcome, and within the finance world, there is no exception. Finance managers today grapple with an array of challenges, and they must navigate an increasingly complex regulatory environment, adapt to the rapid digitalisation of financial systems, and mitigate risks amid economic uncertainties. Moreover, the demand for strategic insights and data-driven decision-making has skyrocketed - to say the least. Finance managers are, therefore now expected to go beyond traditional financial reporting and provide actionable business intelligence that propels the company forward.

However, these challenges also underscore the pivotal role of finance managers in an organisation's success and growth. Their ability to steer a company through financial storms directly influences its stability and profitability. Their insights and financial acumen can identify growth opportunities, enhance operational efficiency, and ensure sustainable business development.

In this way, it’s fair to say that finance managers are not just custodians of a company's financial health but also strategic partners in its journey. Their work really does impact every aspect of the business, from budgeting and forecasting to investment decisions and risk management.

Therefore, despite the challenges, the role of a finance manager remains rewarding and integral to a business's success and evolution.

Person sitting on laptop filling out application formPursuing a Career in Finance - Reasons To Apply

A career in finance offers many enticing prospects that continue to attract talented professionals. Here are several reasons why you might want to pursue this path:

Intellectual Stimulation: Finance is a dynamic field that continuously challenges its professionals to analyse, interpret, and predict complex financial trends. This intellectual rigour makes it a captivating field for those who love problem-solving and strategic thinking.

Financial Incentive: Given the critical role finance professionals play in business operations, they often enjoy competitive remuneration. The potential for substantial financial rewards can be a significant influence.

Broad Industry Options: Finance is a universal aspect of business, meaning financial skills are in demand across industries. This versatility offers a wide array of opportunities for finance professionals to explore diverse sectors. In fact, you could even travel the world since mathematics is truly universal.

Career Advancement Opportunities: The finance sector offers clear progression routes. With experience and proven skills, you can rise through the ranks to senior management roles, such as CFO.

Job Satisfaction: Finance professionals play a crucial role in shaping the strategic direction of a business. This ability to influence organisational growth and success can be highly satisfying.

Key Takeaways

A career in finance is a journey of intellectual rigour, abundant opportunities, and significant impact. With the advent of AI and ML, this path is only set to become more exciting and rewarding for those ready to embrace the future. So what are you waiting for?