Once you decide you need a Finance Director for your business, how do you know if you’ve chosen right with so much choice on the market?

Genuine passion: make sure your FD is someone with a genuine passion for fast growth. The classic trap is to assume someone with an outstanding large blue chip record is what you need. Watch animation vs. lethargy during the interview process.

Bags of energy: make sure your FD still has a fire burning in their belly, just like you.  It’s no good paying for advice from someone with lots of experience if there’s no longer the appetite to roll up their sleeves and get things done.

Genuine experience: make sure your FD can hit the ground running on day one, bringing to bear years of experience in supporting your finance and back office needs.  Don’t let your baby be the proving ground for an FD looking for a career change, unless the chemistry is outstanding. Drill hard during the interview process on specific examples of supporting entrepreneurs, ideally in your sector.

No shrinking violets, please: if you just need someone to process transactions, that’s called a bookkeeper.  The right FD will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in executing the vision but be a voice of reason for you. Ultimately the decision will be yours but they won’t let you make it without a reality check on proposals and projects based on analysis of the numbers.

Give them HR, IT, and Admin – it comes with the turf: choose an FD who can look after HR, IT, and Facilities for you. A good FD typically picks up these back office functions allowing you to focus on sales, marketing and business development. Of course, if it takes up more time, you will need to pay but think what it’s costing the business in your time lost on sales and business development.

Agree the cost.  No surprises: your FD is not your financial advisor or your accountant. Your FD is someone who works inside the business with you, working part time initially perhaps, charging a reduced day rate based on your size. As you grow, the FD will no doubt need to increase the time involved and may look to charge what the business can afford. They are investing time and money (via discounted rates) in your business, which is a clear signal they are motivated to help you be successful.

Sense of humour: yes, FD’s do have them – well, the right ones do. You’ll be spending a lot of time with them. You both need to feel good about the interaction.  Make sure you get that ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling in the first five minutes of the interview.