More and more companies in the SME sector are engaging a part time FD to give them the flexibility and affordability they need as a growing business. The FD role is hugely important for your business and it's essential you select the right person to fulfil that position. These top 7 essentials will help you find the right person.
If you are taking on someone to fill a role as important as the FD or CFO then you need someone with the right qualifications to fulfill that role. This means a chartered accountant with a professional qualification from one of the main professional bodies (ICAEW, CIMA, ACCA, ICAS, CIPFA). This gives you a mark of qualification and ongoing professional education. Whilst someone with a degree or part qualification in accounting may be quite good, it's unlikely that they'll have the breadth and depth of knowledge, training and experience that a qualified professional brings. A qualified part time FD or CFO will make all the difference.
Look for someone who has experience in your type of business. That experience doesn't necessarily need to be industry specific as there are a lot of skills that can be carried across different industry sectors. However, if you're a large plc then someone with SME experience may not be suitable for the requirements of a listed company. Equally, someone who has been a group accountant or FD in a PLC may not appreciate the needs, demands and challenges faced in the SME sector. With the right experience a part time FD or CFO can bring huge benefits to the business.
3. Success and Failure
On first look it may seem great to bring in someone who has had nothing but success in their career and the companies they've worked for. However, if that's really the case then that individual may not be able to handle the situation when a challenge arises if they have never been tested before. Look for someone who has experienced challenges and things that haven't worked out so well as well as success stories. Ideally you need a good balance of success and “learning experiences".
4. Communication Skills
Find someone you can talk to and who can talk back. Communication is essential in this role, even more so when it's a part time. Make sure the individual has effective written and verbal communication skills. The ability to get a message across clearly and concisely is vitally important to a successful part time FD or CFO.
There will be times when the decisions and opinions of the FD will be challenged. And that's when you need someone with the confidence to stand up to those challenges and assertive enough to state their case and defend their position. It doesn't mean being stubborn but it does mean having the ability to speak confidently and hold their ground.
In an SME business there is always a need for flexibility. And a good part time FD or CFO needs to be willing to accept change and adapt to the dynamic environment in which SMEs operate. There are always fundamental principles that need to be applied but the method of application can vary.
Lastly but perhaps most importantly, you have to be able to get on with them. If you bring in an FD or CFO, even on a part time basis, there's no advantage if you can't stand the sight of each other and don't get along. This doesn't necessarily mean you've got a new best friend who'll be constantly by your side. It does mean having someone you feel you can trust and talk to honestly. It means having someone you can build an effective working relationship with.
Andy Warren is the Managing Director of Marshall Keen Ltd. He is a chartered accountant and successful CFO, FD and entrepreneur with extensive experience in M&A, Corporate Finance, Business Growth and Exit Strategies. Marshall Keen http://www.marshallkeen.com specializes in providing flexible CFO services and part time FD services to early and mid stage businesses, particularly in the tech sector.