Getting the most from your FD

February 25th 2016 | Posted by phil scott

Getting the most from your FD

The appointment of an FD is a considerable investment for a business. Not only in salary and perks, but a great hire can make your organisation soar, while getting it wrong can cause the whole operation to flounder.
But it’s not all on one individual’s shoulders. Great working relationships are a two-way thing, and getting best value from your FD is just as much about creating the right environment for them to flourish.
Here’s what we know about finding the right FD and working with them to succeed together.

It starts with recruitment

Your organisation doesn’t merely need a good FD, it needs the right FD. It’s surprisingly common for organisations to rush into a recruitment decision, perhaps to meet some imaginary deadline, sometimes to save money. Yet bad hires can prove costly in terms of time and money wasted.
Don’t be afraid to look outside of your industry to find the right candidate. It’s easy to see the appeal in hiring an individual who knows your market inside-out, but in many instances it can be advantageous to bring in an outsider. Their innovative perspective could be a breath of fresh air instead of the same old practises you’ve already tried.
Do remember that personality is important. Your FD needs to match your organisation’s values and ambitions. They’re going to make tough decisions, which means they need to be able to challenge superiors while relating information to subordinates.
Most of all, resist the temptation to make a hasty decision, or to appoint an unsuitable candidate simply because they’re the best of a bad selection.
Make sure you attract the right calibre of candidates by studying our annual salary survey.

Consider using a part-time or interim FD

Long-standing FD relationships are great in many cases, but not always necessary or viable. In some cases, you may not have the budget to acquire top talent on a full-time basis. In another situation, you may be working towards a specific objective, such as selling the company.
Part-time FDs are a great way to get the brightest minds for less than a full-time salary. Interim FDs often have specialisms and can be brought in to oversee specific projects, or can be used to bridge the gap between two-full time FDs, meaning you don’t have to rush from one long-term commitment to the next.

Trust and listen

Great FDs don’t come cheap. So first and foremost, to micromanage, or keep them on too short a leash, is to waste your investment.
In addition, great FDs bring ideas to the table, manage projects, and have what it takes to elevate your business to the next level. You’d be missing out on a huge opportunity by keeping them at their desk doing nothing more than filing numbers.
You have hired your FD because of their skills, experience and ability to drive business forward. Trust your own judgement that you have hired the right individual, then trust that individual to make the role their own.
Ideally you should be hiring an FD who knows more about the FD role than you do. In which case, be willing to listen to their ideas and implement those that work.

Immerse your FD in your business

FD may have ‘finance’ right there in the job title, but today’s FD does more than take care of the numbers. FDs are often trained and experienced in overall business strategy and can have valuable input on everything from technology to staffing.
Essentially, the work your FD does will resonate throughout the whole business, so let them get hands-on in each department and build relationships. Not only will they be able to offer ideas and insight, but it’ll make them much more informed when it comes to their core finance work, too.

Know when it isn’t working

It can sometimes take a while for an FD to immerse themselves in a new organisation, and longer to affect change. And we’ve already spoken about trusting your FD.
But sometimes bad recruiting decisions happen, for whatever reason, and it’s important to recognise a failing and act quickly.
It’s easy to let bad situations get worse in order to avoid making difficult decisions or having difficult conversations, but that’s doing an injustice to your FD, your business and your employees.
If your FD is falling below your expectations, start by holding a meeting and saying so. Then ask why they feel they aren’t performing, and asking what it would take to improve the situation. It could be that they aren’t being given the tools required and it’s a problem easily solved.
Sometimes, it’s simply that things weren’t meant to be. If so, make the decision to part ways early. Let them move on to a role they’re better suited to and save yourself the heavy cost of prolonging the mistake.

Recognise and reward

Once you’ve found the right FD, they’re firing on all cylinders and your business is growing handsomely, you’ll want to keep that going.
Keep your FD loyal by rewarding them appropriately. This isn’t just a case of finance, though that is definitely important too, but help them meet their life and career goals, too.
If your FD has dreams of climbing the ladder one day then offer to mentor them and groom them for a higher up position, offer flexible working hours which is especially appealing to those with families, and allow them to put their own stamp on the business.
Each individual has their own hopes and dreams, so check in with your FD regularly to ensure you’re helping them meet theirs. If you’re not, another employer might offer to.