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FDs aiming for top job as role expands

Commercial acumen is increasingly important for finance directors looking to climb the career ladder

FINANCE DIRECTORS rate commercial acumen as the most important skill to possess in order to advance their careers and are spending more time acting as a business partner.

A report published yesterday by recruiter Hays found that FDs increasingly want to get involved with their organisations’ operational activities and not just focus on the numbers.

The survey of 800 UK finance directors found that commercial awareness and people management were the two most sought after skills, reflecting the more operational nature of the role.

Their expanded remit is making FDs more ambitious to climb the career ladder, with 29% aiming to become a group finance director in a larger organisation and 12% having designs on becoming a CEO.

“FDs are ambitious and eager to climb the career ladder with the ultimate career goal of a bigger finance role in a larger organisation,” said Karen Young, director of senior finance at Hays. “How they reach this goal varies but it’s clear that international experience can be of considerable benefit to career progression.”

Indeed, just over a third of FDs have gained international experience with over half spending time in Europe. North America was the second most popular choice followed by Africa, which polled ahead of Asia.

Tony Roberts, general manager – finance controlling at Mercedes-Benz World said working abroad “broadens your mind”. “Often you’re out there on your own so it’s a great opportunity to learn about different cultures, laws and accounting practices.”

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