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Top tips when hiring an in-house Finance Manager

finance leadership hr Apr 28, 2023

I don't know about you, but I remember when you would have at a minimum, a Team of 4 in your Finance Department. 

Accounts Payable as your entry level.  Another accounts role that could include payroll, credit control and bank reconciliations.  An Assistant accountant who was part-qualified and your Financial Controller.

These 3 more junior roles and sometimes all 4 roles are now done by just the one Finance Manager.

The role of a finance manager is critical to the success of any organisation, as they are responsible for managing the financial resources of the organisation and ensuring that financial goals and objectives are met.

The finance manager has a wide range of responsibilities.

It is also often one of the first in-house hire of a start-up or fast growth business, as previously the work would have been completed by an outsourced bookkeeping or accounting firm.  So the person will be leaned on quite heavily by a lot of people around the business.

When hiring a Finance Manager, whether its the first Operational accountant for the company or a replacement there first needs to be a consideration as to what is important for this role, so that the right person is hired.

Asides from Day to Day Operations, is the candidate expected to do any of the following?

Financial Reporting: are they responsible for ensuring that accurate and timely financial reports are prepared, whether its to internal and/or external stakeholders? This includes preparing financial statements, management reports, and regulatory filings.

Cash Management: are they going to be responsible for managing the organisation's cash flow, which involves monitoring cash balances, forecasting cash needs, and developing strategies to optimize the use of available cash resources?

Risk Management: will they be responsible for identifying and mitigating financial risks that may impact the organisation's financial performance.

Financial Compliance: will they be responsible for ensuring that the organisation is in compliance with all applicable financial regulations and standards. This includes developing policies and procedures and ensuring that all financial transactions are properly documented and recorded.

Once a decision has been made on whether they will do just the day to day operations or some or all of the above a suitable job description can be made, as well as an understanding of salary expectations.

When hiring a finance manager, there are then several key factors that should be taken into consideration to ensure that the right candidate is selected for the job. Some suggestions include:

  • Education & Qualification: Do you want them to be fully qualified or is part-qualified suitable?
  • Relevant Experience: Ideally, you would like a candidate should have several years of experience working in a finance role, preferably in a similar industry or field.   Sometimes its worthwhile deciding beforehand what industry or experience is an essential and what is nice to have.  For example, essential in-industry experience (not just audit), but doesn't have to be for a start-up / fast growth.  Need Inventory experience, but not necessarily for the same sector.... etc.
  • Strong Communication Skills: The candidate should possess strong communication skills, as they will be responsible for communicating financial information to other departments and stakeholders. They should be able to clearly communicate complex financial information to non-financial stakeholders and communicate to many 3rd parties such as banks, suppliers and sometimes customers.  It's worth checking different forms of communication during the interview process such as phone manners, VC, written and face to face where possible.
  • Flexibility and Adaptability: The candidate should be flexible and adaptable, as the role of a finance manager often requires them to be able to quickly adapt to new situations and changing business needs. They should be able to prioritise and manage multiple tasks effectively and be comfortable working in a fast-paced and dynamic environment.
  • Attention to Detail: The candidate should have a keen attention to detail, as they will be responsible for ensuring that financial records are accurate and up-to-date. They should be able to identify errors or discrepancies in financial data and take steps to correct them.  I often test candidates with this, either as a mini-excel test that I have put together, or I give them specific instructions in a email on how to book an interview that has several steps to see if they can follow / notice the details.
  • Technical Proficiency, as well as Implementation skills: This is becoming more and more important as this role will continue to be as automated as possible.  Essentially the candidate should be proficient in the use of accounting software, many add-ons, databases and to a lesser extent now, spreadsheets, as well as being familiar with the latest financial technologies and trends. They should also be familiar with implementing new technologies and have had experience of this before.  They should be able to leverage these tools to streamline financial processes and improve the accuracy and efficiency of financial reporting.

When hiring for a Finance Manager, which I do very regularly, these are the kinds of things I am looking for.

It almost goes without saying, but Cultural fit is also very important for a start-up or fast growth business, as the team is very small and we need to ensure that this person would fit in and enjoy working with their colleagues.  However, its often advisable that someone outside the Finance leadership role does the cultural fit test and generally I lean on the CEO/Founder or COO to do the Culture fit test.


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