The tasks undertaken by a financial manager are at the heart of major business decisions.
A financial manager job role varies according to the place of work, but typical tasks include daily reporting, analysing targets and budgetary planning.
Having a good head for figures is essential, as is being able to communicate with colleagues across the business.
Because the role requires specialist skills, the salary can be generous and the career progression opportunities are excellent.
Sound good? Read on to discover exactly what the job entails, the skills and qualifications you need, and useful tips from people already working in the job.
What does a financial manager do?
A financial manager has a lot of responsibility, meaning the role can feel hugely rewarding and fulfilling.
So, what does a financial manager do? If you work for a large employer, the role is likely to focus on strategic analysis. In a smaller company, the job specification of a finance manager may concentrate on the preparation of accounts.
In either case, the role of a financial manager involves producing reports and research on the company’s financial situation, as well as its short and long term goals.
Some financial managers, particularly the more senior ones, provide input into key business decisions, such as mergers and acquisitions, expansion and large deals.
“As a finance manager the job can be pretty varied, ranging from standard accounting routines through to involvement in commercial projects, system reviews and implementation, as well as representing finance to senior management,” says Phillipa Southern, senior financial controller at totaljobs.
For entry-level finance managers, there are lots of career opportunities for the taking.
“If finance managers demonstrate good skills, management and are proactive in their role, they have the ability to eventually progress to head the finance function within an organisation, depending on size,” says Lee Owen, senior business director at recruitment firm.
Financial manager responsibilities and duties
Although the roles and responsibilities of a finance manager vary from one organisation to another, there are certain tasks that are common across all jobs.
The duties of a finance manager include:
- Daily reporting.
- Analysing targets.
- Meeting with department heads.
- Managing and coordinating monthly reporting, budgeting and reforecast processes.
- Providing back office services such as accounts payable, collection and payroll.
- Monitoring cash flow.
- Liaising with accountant teams.
Finance manager responsibilities can also include:
- Providing insights on the financial health of the organisation.
- Ensuring the business meets all its statutory and compliance obligations, including statutory accounting and tax issues.
- Keeping track of market trends.
- Looking for cost-reduction opportunities.
- Developing relationships with external contacts such as auditors, solicitors and HM Revenue & Customs.
- Supervising staff.
“A typical day can range from orderly and standard routines and processes through to involvement in commercial aspects, legal and contract issues and system/project work,” says Southern, senior financial controller at totaljobs. “One thing for sure, it is always busy and the to-do list is never empty.”
The wide range of responsibilities offered by a financial manager role opens the door to further career opportunities.
Tom Copeland, manager for qualified finance, commerce and industry atrecruitment firm Marks Sattin, says: “There is a clear path up for financial managers because there are several different positions above them. Typically, afinancial managercould progress to becoming afinancial controller, then afinance directorand then achief financial officer.
“It is also possible to move sideways into a commercial finance position. This is where you help to run the business – it is a strategic forward-thinking role.”
Why should I become a financial manager?
There are a wide range of benefits and opportunities that come with financial management careers.
A financial manager job is a mid-management role that offers the opportunity to make a real difference to the organisation’s success.
Because of the demand for financial managers across multiple industries, the role comes with high job security.
“Finance is something that a company will always need. If a small business is suddenly struggling with high costs they might drop their marketing executive, but finance is a legal requirement. Businesses must report their accounts to the government and know how much money is coming in and going out,” says Copeland,manager for qualified finance, commerce and industry at Marks Sattin.
Being a financial manager also comes with career progression opportunities. There is a solid path towards roles such as senior finance manager, head of finance and finance director.
“In terms of career potential and development, the possibilities are almost endless, for each company, charity and organisation demands financial transparency,” says Adam Thorpe, operations director atRandstad Financial Services.
“The larger the business, the more likely it will have roles of various levels to progress to. Finance director or even managing director are roles not out of reach of an ambitious finance manager.”Many organisations will provide financial management training. This could include training in analytics, IT, people management and leadership.
“Depending on the company and the role, training opportunities would include integrating with other functions across the business to gain a wider perspective across the whole company. At the same time finance managers would be expected to study for their professional qualifications, including those from ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales), ICAS (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland), ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants),” says Owen, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance.
What is the best part of being a financial manager?
Being a financial manager is a varied and exciting job.
“Many people think finance is boring, but that has certainly never been so in my case,” says Southern (senior financial controller at totaljobs). “I have been involved in fantastic projects, including the launch of totaljobs.com. It has enabled me to travel and look after businesses in the US, South Africa and Europe.
“Every day there is a new challenge. Being part of influencing business decisions and seeing a business flourish is very rewarding.”
A finance manager gets a good overview of a business from the inside out and can make a real difference to the company’s success.
“What I like most is seeing the tangible impact I have on what my business is achieving,” explains Thomas Curtis, finance director atElim Housing Association.
“Finance managers are given a lot of responsibility. A commercial finance manager will undertake modelling exercises to show how certain decisions will impact the bottom line. A finance manager in a more operational role can challenge the business in how it operates on a day-to-day basis. Both have the opportunity to build partnerships with senior individuals in the organisation.”
Financial manager salary
A finance manager salary varies according to the type of company and region in which the role is based.
For example, a financial manager working at a large company in London will typically earn more than someone at a very small firm in a small town. Likewise, an investment banking firm will pay a financial manager more than a charity will.
On average, financial manager salaries are around £41,000, with starting salaries at £31,000. A senior finance manager salary will be higher, at around £75,000 or more in London and the South East.
“The role often comes with a car allowance of £5,000 or a 10% to 30% bonus,” says Luke Higgs, associate director at recruitment firmRobert Walters. “Other standard benefits include private healthcare, pension contributions of around 5% salary, 25 to 27 days’ holiday and life cover.”
You can find more information on theaverage financial manager salaryon the totaljobs salary checker, which lets you compare the average pay for any job or industry within any location in the UK.
You might also find it useful to browsefinancial manager jobson the totaljobs jobs board to get a sense of the salary ranges and opportunities.
Financial management jobs
There are a wide range of finance manager jobs available.
Some roles focus on financial control, including corporate reporting and statutory accounts.
Others are operational in nature, whereby the finance manager assesses whether the company can improve its day-to-day business functions. In an operational role, a finance manager will need to communicate with a wide range of colleagues to ensure they understand the financial impact of their day-to-day decisions.
Commercial finance is about determining the financial impact of large-scale decisions, such as accepting a big production deal or making an acquisition.
You can read about the most common financial manager roles below, with a description of the unique responsibilities and typical salary.
Commercial finance manager
What does a commercial finance manager do?
A commercial finance manager helps to run the business by taking on a strategic, forward-thinking role.
“It is a good all-rounder position that can open up many career paths,” says Copeland (manager for qualified finance, commerce and industry atMarks Sattin).
The overarching aim of a commercial finance manager is to increase the company’s profits by analysing data, proposing new opportunities and suggesting ways to improve efficiency. It is often a leadership role.
Typical tasks include:
- Analysing business processes.
- Comparing current performance with previous years.
- Assisting the operations team with its monthly review.
- Evaluating the impact of business decisions, such as mergers and acquisitions.
- Identifying ways to operate more cost-efficiently.
“A commercial finance manager looks at budgeting, forecasting and analysis. It is a strategic role that involves analysing how the business can move forward. A commercial finance manager might be managing between one and three people who are newly or part qualified,” says Higgs (associate director atRobert Walters).
Commercial finance manager salary
The average salary for a commercial finance manager is £57,500. It can range from around £47,500 to £62,500, depending on the location and industry sector.
Starting salaries are in the range of £35,000 to £45,000.
You can compare theaverage commercial finance manager salaryby location using totaljobs’ salary checker.
It’s also worth looking at the types of employers currently advertising for acommercial finance manageron the totaljobs jobs board.
Assistant finance manager
What does an assistant finance manager do?
An assistant finance manager is someone who reports into the finance manager.
Typical responsibilities and duties of an assistant finance manager include:
- Supporting the month-end account management process.
- Producing the profit and loss and balance sheet.
- Budgeting and forecasting.
- Balance sheet reconciliations.
- Cost analysis.
The role is usually aimed at part-qualified accountants.
Assistant finance manager salary
The typical salary for an assistant finance manager is lower than a finance manager, reflecting the fact it is a more junior role.
The average salary is around £30,000, rising to £40,000 in London. Starting salaries can be between £25,000 and £27,000.
You can find out more about the types of roles and salaries on offer for anassistant finance managerby looking at the totaljobs jobs board.
What does a finance officer do?
A finance officer job is very much an entry-level finance role. The responsibilities and duties focus on the administrative side of accounting, including:
- Purchase ledger duties.
- Processing pay, invoices and staff expenses.
- Maintaining petty cash and spreadsheets.
- Accounts reconciliation.
- Chasing debts.
- Sorting post.
This role offers a range of full-time, part-time and temporary working opportunities.
Finance officer salary
The average salary for a finance officer is £22,492, with the typical range being between £21,000 and £26,000.
The starting salary is usually around £20,000.
The totaljobs jobs board will give you an idea of the types of companies currently advertising for afinance officer.
You can compareaverage finance officer salaryby region offered by using the totaljobs salary checker.
Finance managers who work hard can benefit from a structured career path.
The common promotion structure is to go from financial analyst or assistant finance manager to finance manager. A finance manager can then be promoted to higher roles such as senior finance manager, financial controller, head of finance and finance director.
“A financial controller is responsible for managing the finance managers. The financial controller is usually the number two to the finance director. Their role is focussed on managing the day-to-day, strategic finances, in addition to helping the finance director and managing director to drive the business forward,” says Higgs, associate director at Robert Walters.
“In some companies the head of finance will be more senior than the financial controller, while in other firms it will be the other way around. It depends on the structure of the organisation. They are both senior roles that report into the finance director or managing director,” he adds.
What kinds of companies and organisations employ financial managers?
Pretty much every organisation and industry will be involved in some degree of finance recruitment. This is because it is a legal requirement for companies to report their finances and record how much money is coming in and going out.
You could choose to become a school finance manager, a media finance manager or a finance manager in a large bank – the opportunities are endless.
The types of companies and organisations that recruit financial managers include:
- Health authorities.
- Local government.
- Schools, universities and colleges.
- Banks, building societies and insurance companies.
- Retail companies.
- Media companies.
- IT companies.
Some of the industries requiring financial managers are:
- Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).
- Manufacturing and services.
- Public utilities.
“There are a great number of career opportunities for finance managers, as this role is employed across varying different organisations, including public, private, commercial and education, to name a few,” says Owen, senior business director atHays Accountancy & Finance.
How do I get a financial management job?
Roles within finance are extremely competitive, with a large number of applicants yet few available job roles. This means it is extremely important to stand out from the crowd.
In this section you can find out how to get into finance.
Most recruiters and employers will want to see that a financial manager applicant has prior work experience in a similar role, preferably within the same industry.
“The ideal applicant would have relevant industry experience. This is because finance within different industries can be very specific. For example, retail is about selling products, inventory and the cost of renting buildings. In contrast, finance looks very different in a bank because they are selling a service and need to be mindful of currency exchange rates,” says Copeland, manager for qualified finance at Marks Sattin.
The application process for a role as a finance manager isn’t typically longer or more challenging than it is for other roles. It usually involves a two- or three-stage interview process.
However, recruiters and employers will be looking out for very specialised skills.
Finance managers would be expected to have professional qualifications, strong analytical skills and the ability to communicate with a diverse range of internal and external contacts.
It’s important to draw attention to these skills in your application.
“Remember that employers are interested in tangible evidence of your abilities, skills and achievements, not just a list of adjectives. Many people can claim to be hardworking, loyal and a good team player, however you need to be able to demonstrate this with solid evidence,” says Owen, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance.
What makes a good financial manager?
There are a number of strands to what makes a good finance manager.
Having a good head for numbers is imperative, but to be the best finance manager you will also need great interpersonal skills, and the ability to solve complex problems and analyse financial markets.
“As a finance manager it is all about being organised, good at planning, and a strong communicator and motivator. It’s important to ensure the team is clear on what their contribution and responsibility is. The job also involves being able to prioritise ad-hoc or unexpected demands,” says Southern, senior financial controller at totaljobs.
Being able to communicate financial information to people who do not necessarily have a finance background is also really important.
“A finance manager will need to convey complex information in a way that can be easily understood by colleagues who may not be as familiar with the financial world. The ability to communicate with clients and manage successful relationships with them is also a key skill, as financial managers are increasingly in positions that are client-facing,” says Owen, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance.
Financial manager skills
The main financial management skills and attributes that employers will be looking for include:
- Mathematics skills.
- Leadership skills.
- Communication skills.
- Analytical skills.
- Project management skills.
- Organisational skills.
“Project management and strong organisational skills are imperative for a financial manager as you’ll often be running projects that directly influence an organisation’s profits. Leadership and teamwork skills are also relevant here, as part of managing a project may include effectively managing your team to meet deadlines and manage budgets,” says Owen, senior business director at Hays Accountancy & Finance.
Other skills needed for finance include being commercial aware. Finance managers must understand the link between an organisation’s finances and the demands of the market.
Financial manager qualifications
A financial manager will be expected to have the relevant finance manager qualifications.
For entry-level roles, a Bachelor’s finance degree will usually be required. Other fields of study that would be welcomed include business and accountancy.
Occasionally, school leavers can gain entry-level qualifications from professional accounting bodies and work their way up to financial management level.
By the time you reach the level of financial manager, you will be expected to have finance certificates from an organisation like the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) or Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
Becoming a member of a professional body enables you to gain further qualifications. For example, members of the ACCA can gain fellowship after five years and FCCA status, assuming they have completed the required Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training.
“The ACCA or FCCA letters after a name denote a quality that stands out from the crowd. They denote someone whose skills will always be up-to-date because of the CPD they have to do as an ACCA member. It is a sign of professionalism and quality – someone who has excellent technical, professional and ethical skills,” says Claire Bennison, head ofACCA UK.
For financial managers who want to work in smaller companies, another option is the Institute of Financial Accountants (IFA).
“Our qualifications are very much focussed and highly relevant for those seeking a financial accountant/management career within a small- to medium-sized enterprise (SME) or accountancy practice,” says John Edwards, chief executive ofthe IFA.
“Once qualified, you would be entitled to become an associate member of the IFA and use the letters AFA (Associate Financial Accountant) after your name.
“The letters AFA are extremely important as they are a badge of quality and professionalism. They demonstrate to the wider world – employers, recruiters and the general public – that you are a professionally-qualified accountant with good standing, knowledge, competence and skills that would add immense value to any business.
“It is a must for your CV as it will help you stand out amongst others and assist you in your career progression.”
How do I get financial management experience?
The most common ways to gain finance work experience are:
- Through paid or unpaid internships. This is typical for recent graduates and those who are new to the industry.
- Via in-house shadowing for short periods of time, usually between one day and two weeks.
- Through placements lasting between three months and one year. This is most common among students during their studies.
For financial manager roles, most employers require several years of work experience in a finance or accountancy-related role. Anything less would be more suited to a finance analyst role.
Employers will be especially impressed by candidates who have financial experience in the same industry.
“If you’re applying for a finance manager role within a certain industry, having already gained financial experience within this same industry will allow you to perform better and increase your chances of landing the job,” says Kyra Cordrey, operating director at recruitment companyMichael Page.
“Employers will look out for candidates who have received broad training, as this perfectly suits the all-round financial experience that is required for a role as finance manager,” she adds.
Organisations will want to see that a financial manager has been on a clear, relevant and logical career path.
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What is the best description of a financial manager? ›
Financial managers generally oversee the financial health of an organization and help ensure its continued viability. They supervise important functions, such as monitoring cash flow, determining profitability, managing expenses and producing accurate financial information.What are 3 job duties of a finance manager? ›
Finance Manager Job Responsibilities:
Leads planning and forecasting activities with business partners to achieve business and company goals. Reviews financial reports. Prepares financial forecasts. Monitors financial details to ensure legal compliance.
Strategic and analytical skills
Financial professionals need to possess the analytical ability and know-how to look at those numbers and really understand what the data is saying. Financial reporting, studying market trends, and forecasting are just a few of the roles in which require cutting-edge analytical skills.
Communication and analytical skills, as well as a strong understanding of accounting standards and tax codes are necessary skill sets for finance managers.What is the job description of finance? ›
Finance Officer duties and responsibilities of the job
Assisting in the preparation of budgets. Managing records and receipts. Reconciling daily, monthly and yearly transactions. Preparing balance sheets. Processing invoices.
- Raising of Funds. In order to meet the obligation of the business it is important to have enough cash and liquidity. ...
- Allocation of Funds. ...
- Profit Planning. ...
- Understanding Capital Markets.
Financial Manager Responsibilities:
Finding ways to reduce or maintain costs by studying financial reports and business processes. Analyzing market trends to discover business opportunities and maximize profits. Aiding management in financial decisions. Maintaining up-to-date financial system knowledge.
- Improve communication skills and be transparent. ...
- Develop your own skills. ...
- Deal with conflict (don't avoid it). ...
- Set high, but realistic, expectations. ...
- Be open to new ideas and new perspectives. ...
- Take a break. ...
- Recognize your big-picture impact.
The goal of financial management is to maximize shareholder wealth. For public companies this is the stock price, and for private companies this is the market value of the owners' equity.What is finance manager qualifications? ›
Qualifications for Finance Manager
Bachelor's degree in Finance or Accounting; CPA a plus. 5-8 years of experience in accounting and/or financial analysis. Ability to synthesize large quantities of complex data into actionable information. Ability to work and effectively communicate with senior-level business partners.
What is the most important things to work as finance role? ›
Accounting and finance professionals must have excellent analytical ability and interpersonal skills, and a sharp understanding of industry technology. As someone who manages money, an organization's most important commodity, financial professionals bear a great deal of responsibility.Who works under a financial manager? ›
Financial Assistant: The finance manager is guided and assisted by the financial assistant. The main responsibility is to report to the manager and implement work, as and when directed. The assistant role should be preparing books of account, preparing cash memos, cheques and bills.What is the primary goal of the financial manager? ›
The goal of financial management is to maximize shareholder wealth. For public companies this is the stock price, and for private companies this is the market value of the owners' equity.What is the job description of an account manager? ›
What does an Account Manager do? Account management responsibilities include developing strong relationships with customers, connecting with key business executives and stakeholders and preparing sales reports. Account Managers also answer client queries and identify new business opportunities among existing customers.What is the difference between financial manager and accountant? ›
In general, accountant jobs emphasize recording and reporting the flow of money through financial statements. FINANCIAL MANAGERS AND FINANCIAL ADVISORS, FOR INSTANCE, OVERSEE AN INDIVIDUAL'S OR ORGANIZATION'S ASSETS AND LIABILITIES, HELPING CLIENTS REACH THEIR FINANCIAL GOALS.