A quality Finance Director can revitalise your business’s finance function and drive your company’s profits and success. But how do you go about hiring for the role of a Finance Director? What does a Finance Director do to maximise the efficiency of your business’s finance functions and accounts? What steps can you take to ensure that you secure the perfect Finance Director for your business?
Before you embark on your Finance Director recruitment journey, you should know as much as possible about the role and about Director-level recruitment in finance.
In this insight, we will guide you through everything you need to know about hiring a trailblazing Finance Director.
We’ll cover everything from Finance Director qualities and traits, to CVs and cover letters, all the way through to the best ways of recruiting top Finance Directors.
What Skills You Should Look For In Your Finance Directors?
Before you start recruiting, you need to know what to look for in a Finance Director. More specifically, what skills does a top Finance Director possess? What does a Finance Director do to stand out as an ideal candidate? What specific skills make a Finance Director candidate perfect for your opportunity?
For Director level roles, one of the main things you should be looking for in your candidates is an abundance of transferable skills. These are executive skills; business acumen that allow the candidate to excel in senior roles regardless of industry or sector. Often when issues arise in senior finance, your candidates might have to conduct tasks outside of their area of finance expertise.
In situations like this, it’s sink or swim for Finance Directors. Candidates with strong transferable skills are swimmers.
Essentially, these skills dictate how well candidates deal with general senior business decisions and challenges. But these aren’t the only skills required of top Finance Directors. Of course, the best candidates also have strong finance specific skills.
So what kind of finance specific skills are we talking about?
It goes without saying that excellent financial and accountancy skills are a must. In addition, candidates should have strong strategic ability and an analytical mind for business and finance. Analysing data and trends, and creating solid business strategies is a key ability in Finance Directors, and one you should be sure your candidates possess.
Strong competitor analysis skills are also required in order to gauge best practice and competitor activity. You should ensure that your candidates exhibit self-sufficiency and an independent personality. You should look for candidates who can act on their own and achieve success by making crucial decisions with full autonomy.
Points To Consider Before Hiring A New Finance Director
So apart from key skills, what else do you need to consider before recruiting a new Finance Director? Appointing someone in the Finance Director role is a big decision, you need to make sure you’re making the right choice. You should be well informed on what to expect during the recruitment process.
Before you start, consider the timescale of your recruitment process. When do you ideally want to recruit someone by? And when do you realistically think this will be achieved by? When determining a timescale makes sure to consider Finance Director demand.
Shortages of high-quality senior finance candidates can be quite common depending on your area and industry. Make sure that you understand how many suitable candidates might be available, this will help determine what method of recruitment is best for you. Consider location, as depending on the base of your role, candidates may be more or less likely to commute or relocate to take your role.
Is there an abundance of top Finance Directors in your area? Maybe you could conduct your recruitment on your own. But what if top talent is rare? Your best bet is working with a headhunting service.
Also make sure to consider your existing business culture and structure. How do you plan on integrating your new Finance Director into the business and existing finance teams? Be careful to anticipate any potential issues in integrating your new hire.
This is why it’s so important to consider your business culture, as compared to the personality of the candidate. In addition to skills and experience, you should hire candidates with the fit personality to thrive in your business culture. Hiring a Finance Director with the wrong personality or mindset could be a poor decision, even if they seem to have all the right qualifications.
How To Write A Finance Director Job Ad
So now that you’ve defined what you need, you need to get a feel for the market of actively looking candidates. You may consider writing a job ad to gauge response levels and quality of candidate. But is writing a Finance Director job ad simple, or is there more to it?
For senior roles, you should be careful in how you word and structure your job ads. Remember that your job ads are a reflection of your business as well as your opportunity. It gives potential candidates potentially their first impression of you, so you want it to be a good one.
There are a number of things you should consider when writing your job advertisement. Let’s take a look at some of the key tips to be aware of.
Be mindful of language
The way you use language presents a certain tone to the reader. It can give them an impression of what type of business you are. Clarity is important. You want your candidates to be able to read the ad quickly and understand everything. Don’t make reading your ad an effort, it will only deter candidates.
Include a business overview
Make sure you talk about your business to give candidates a good impression of what they’d be going into. For many senior candidates, the business environment/structure is one of the most important factors in their attraction to a role. Make sure to clearly outline the appeal of your business as well as the Finance Director role itself.
Include desired personality
Many businesses fail to consider the importance of candidate personality when recruiting for a role. You want to make sure you attract Finance Directors whose personality matches your business environment. Otherwise, you could end up with a poor fit, even if they have all the right experience.
The main appeal of the opportunity
Over everything else, your Finance Director job ad needs to create appeal. It needs to make top Finance Directors think ‘wow, this is a really interesting opportunity’. Identify the main appeal of your role, the thing that sets it apart from other FD roles, and highlight it.
What To Look For In Your Finance Director Cover Letters
A Finance Director’s cover letter can tell you a lot about them as a candidate. It can give you a good indication of their suitability for your role and business before you’ve even looked at their CV.
The cover letter is their chance to tell you some key facts about themselves, whilst showing their knowledge of your business and the research they’ve done. It’s the candidate’s chance to sell themselves to you in a personalised manner.
Here are some of the key features to look out for in a quality Finance Director’s cover letter.
Your Finance Director cover letters should show clear signs of personalisation. Their cover letter should be unique to your opportunity and address your need. Cover letters should be specifically addressed to the most relevant person possible. Look for cover letters that talk about your business and role specifically, and tie it into their approach.
Watch out for cover letters that are simply copied and pasted for various roles. This defeats the purpose of a cover letter and suggests the candidate doesn’t want to invest the time into pursuing your Finance Director opportunity.
Key Selling Points
Finance Director cover letters should sell the candidate to you. They should highlight the candidate’s key selling points clearly. This might be skills, qualifications, or experience. Whatever the selling point is, your candidate should have it there for you to see. The best candidates create cover letters that grab your attention and compel you to open their CV.
Your Finance Director candidates should have put in the effort to properly research your business before sending you their application. The best candidates make this clear in the cover letter by demonstrating evidence of their knowledge of your company, without being too forced. Your candidates should show that they actually understand your business and its needs, and how they’re your ideal solution.
Evidence of Personality/Culture Fit
Cover letters are a great opportunity for candidates to show their personality. Culture fit is very important for successful recruitment, so your candidates need to have the right personality and drive to match the culture of your business.
Top candidates will give an impression of their personality through their cover letter and its personalisation.
What To Look For In Your Finance Director CVs
After you’ve published your job ad, you’ll start receiving applications. You might end up receiving a lot of Finance Director CVs to read through, which could take a while! But if you know what to look for in these CVs, you can streamline the whole process and identify the very best FDs from your applicants.
Here are some of the key things to look for in your Finance Director candidate’s CV.
Concise, detailed information
Look for CVs where the information is clear and concise. Candidates that can include a lot of detailed, useful information in an easy-to-read manner show great communication skills. This is essential in Finance Director candidates.
Selling point highlighted
Top candidates know their own selling point. They know the main quality that makes them a top prospect to employers. This might be certain skills, experience, or accomplishments. Whatever it is, it should be highlighted for you to see immediately. Key points shouldn’t be buried in a sea of information, the best candidates make them clear and informative.
This is perhaps the most important feature of a Finance Director’s CV. Candidates should give proof of their achievements with quantifiable figures. You should be able to easily interpret candidates’ achievements and compare them with others.
Numbers and figures are essential to the Finance Director role, and without quantifiable figures to back them up, candidates’ achievements can often be too ‘soft’.
The right experience and history
Of course, one of the first things you should be looking for on your Finance Director CVs is experience and career history. How many businesses have they worked in senior finance for? How many years’ experience do they have as a Finance Director?
Most importantly, what have they achieved in their career history? What effect have they had on each business they’ve worked in? For Finance Directors, experience is only really strong if the candidate can prove how the experience benefitted them, and how they left a positive impression on the business.
What Are The Best Finance Director Interview Questions?
Once you’ve gathered and searched through the CVs, it’s time to start shortlisting candidates for interviews. You need to be prepared going into this stage, knowing what to ask and how to structure the interview.
Here are some of the best Finance Director interview questions you can ask your interviewees to gauge who the most ideal candidates for your role are.
What has been your biggest success in finance?
Every Finance Director should be proud of their success. They should be eager to talk all about their biggest achievements and how they’ve achieved success for their business as well as personally.
Ask your candidates what they consider to be their biggest success in their senior finance career. What are they most proud of and why? This is a good method of gauging how the candidate defines success, to see how this aligns with your company vision.
Why do you think you’re a perfect match for our company and our values?
Company match is one of the most important factors in successful Director-level recruitment. In addition to having the right skills and experience, your Finance Director candidate should be the right match for your specific business culture and values.
This question tests your candidate’s suitability to your business and role in particular, not just any Finance Director role. You want to make sure that you find an FD that will fit into your business, one that’s perfect for you.
What long-term effects have you had on your current/previous businesses?
One of the most important measures of a Finance Director’s success is the long-lasting effect they have on their business. What have they actually contributed long term?
You want your Finance Directors to be able to prove to you what they’ve contributed to their business that will last long after they’ve left. This will give you an idea of what they can do for yours.
What has been your biggest challenge in finance? How did you tackle it?
Challenges shape us as people. The way we tackle challenges and come out on top determines our potential. Ask your Finance Director about their biggest challenge in finance and what actions they took to overcome it. This will give you insight into their experience with hardships, their drive, and their ability to adapt and thrive.
What To Consider About Your Pay Scale
Before you hire your final candidates, you need to tackle the issue of salary. Salary negotiations can be tough, so you need to know what to expect and how to best deal with them before diving in. Here are some of the key points to keep in mind before negotiating your candidate’s final salary and benefits.
Consider benefits and salary increases
Remember to consider the future as well as the now. Your candidates will be.
What does a Finance Director do to warrant a higher salary than you’re offering? You should think about what salary potential you want to offer for your candidate’s future. Many candidates won’t want to take a role with no salary progression.
Be prepared to listen to what the candidate wants in terms of benefits and increases. Often this means that you may be able to offer a lower starting salary in return for future benefits and raises.
Know your market
You can’t conduct successful and fair salary negotiations without having a good knowledge of your market. Make sure to do research into what salaries are being offered for similar FD roles in your industry. Salaries for the role of a Finance Director tend to range between £65k and £120k. The salary offered is highly dependant on industry, experience, company size. You don’t want to be severely underpaying compared to your competitors. That’s why it’s important to know your market.
In negotiations, you need to know what your limits are and aim for a certain goal. But at the same time, you can’t be too rigid. It’s likely that your candidate will have a different figure in mind than you do. Be prepared to adjust your figure a little to accommodate the candidate’s wants. Often the candidate will ask for more regardless of the figure, so consider giving a slightly lower offer at first.
It’s not worth giving up the perfect candidate and going back to square one just to save a little bit of money.
Headhunters can provide a great help
You don’t have to be on your own for this process. If you’re recruiting your Finance Director using headhunters, they can help you out at this stage.
Headhunters can be involved in the salary negotiation process as a third party. This means that you can tell them your limits and what you want, and they will do the dirty work.
Consider A Finance Recruitment Agency
If you want the best candidates possible for your Finance Director role, you may consider hiring a finance recruitment agency, or a headhunter. These agencies can help you find the most ideal candidate for your role, as well as assist you with your recruitment needs.
At Executive Headhunters we operate as a whole of market headhunter, though we have strong experience in senior finance recruitment. We’re experienced in finding high-quality director-level candidates including Finance Directors.
Follow this link for an example of how we at Executive Headhunters have helped source top Finance Directors for our clients.
What To Ask A Headhunter
If you’ve made the decision to or are considering working with a headhunter, you should know what to ask them when scouting the right option for you.
The choice of which headhunter to work with is a big one. You need to make sure you’re getting the right information from each option to get the best impression of each before making your final decision. Here are some examples of questions you may want to ask your headhunter or recruiter in that initial phone call before putting pen to paper.
What’s your experience recruiting for the role of a Finance Director?
One of the main things you should look for in your headhunter is experience recruiting for your role. You want to make sure that your headhunter is reliable and capable of sourcing a high-quality Finance Director successfully.
Ask your headhunter how many Finance Directors they’ve recruited in the past and recently. You should be wary of using headhunters who have little experience working with similar roles.
What businesses have you recruited Finance Directors for?
Another important feature of a headhunter is the businesses they’ve worked with. Ideally, you’ll want your headhunter to have an impressive portfolio of clients. Look for headhunters with experience finding senior Finance candidates for reputable businesses. This is a mark of quality.
At Executive Headhunters we’ve successfully sourced ideal candidates for a wealth of well-known businesses across many sectors and industries.
How quickly do you work?
We understand that time is of the essence. When you need to fill the role of a Finance Director urgently, you can’t afford to waste any time. That’s why you need to be sure that your headhunter will operate in a reasonable time frame, and not take longer than needed. Of course, this is a balance. Rushing too much in your headhunt can lead to a lower quality of results.
Quality headhunts take time, but that doesn’t mean headhunters can afford to waste time.
At Executive Headhunters we strive to complete our complete our headhunts in keeping with our client’s desired time frame, without sacrificing on quality of work. Of course, the more time allocated to a headhunt, the more thorough and extensive the search can be.
What are your fees?
Money matters. You shouldn’t overpay for your headhunting service. But at the same time, quality headhunters do usually cost more than typical recruitment agencies. Headhunter fees are usually split into sections to ensure successful delivery of service, and that the process is progressing smoothly.
At Executive Headhunters we like to be as clear as possible with the charges for our services. In our insights session we can outline exactly what fees are in place, and exactly what you receive in return.
What is your headhunting process? What services do I receive?
Every headhunter has a different process. You need to know exactly what your headhunter is going to be doing in order to find you the best candidates.
The Executive Headhunters headhunting process is very thorough, and involves multiple stages from discussion and research, to searching and screening, all the way to salary discussions and hiring.
Feel free to ask our senior consultants at Executive Headhunters any of these questions and any other queries you may have in your free insights session. During this phone call, our senior consultants can go through exactly what we can do for your business, and why we’re perfect for your opportunity.
...And that’s the Finance Director recruitment journey! By considering these points when starting your recruitment process, you can be on your way to finding the perfect Finance Director for your business.