Once you decide you need a Finance Director, or your backers tell you it’s a condition of their investment, how do you know if you’ve chosen right with such an abundance of choice in the market? Technical competency is a given. Here’s what fdu’s CFO David Bloom would be looking for in his No.2
- Genuine Passion: make sure your Finance Director is someone with a genuine passion for the SME growth environment. The classic trap is to assume someone with an outstanding blue chip Mid Cap record is what you need. Watch the non verbal behaviour – animation vs. lethargy – during the interview process.
- Bags of Energy: make sure your experienced Finance Director still has a fire burning in their belly, just like you. It’s no good paying for a 25 year veteran with lots of experience if they haven’t got the engine to complete the marathon, especially as it’s uphill most of the way.
- Genuine Experience: make sure your Finance Director can hit the ground running on day 1 bringing to bear their experience in supporting the strategic finance needs of the business. Drill hard during the interview process on specific examples – fundraising, budgeting, cost control, return on investment, stakeholder management to name a few.
- No Shrinking Violets please: if you just need someone to keep score, that’s called a bookkeeper. The right Finance Director will stand shoulder to shoulder with you in executing the vision but also be a voice of reason for you, a sparring partner. Ultimately the decision will be yours but s/he won’t let you make it without a reality check on proposals and projects based on rigorous analysis of the numbers.
- Give them HR, IT, and Facilities: Choose an Finance Director who can manage the HR, IT, and Facilities teams for you (typically a team of 1 in smaller SME’s). It’s very common for an SME FD to manage these back office functions allowing the CEO to focus on sales, marketing and biz dev.
- Sense of humour: yes, Finance Directors 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 5 minutes of the interview.
If your turnover is over £1m, you’re based in London, and committed to growth for your SME, please contact me for a free consultation.