Accessability Links

Have you got what it takes to lead?

Posted by
08 Sep 2014
For the last 15 years, I have been working with financial professionals to assist them in developing their careers. During this time I've been lucky enough to work with high calibre, ambitious and successful people, that I have seen making a real difference within their organisations - as such it was no surprise to me to learn that it is this sector which has produced the most CEOs in the UK.

Data analysts Qlik, have produced detailed demographics on CEOs from across the globe to establish the attributes which make up our leaders. 

The data tells us that 96% of CEOs are male, 92% are university graduates, with 12% coming from Oxbridge or Harvard and almost 18% having an MBA.

The outcome that was most interesting to me is that in the UK FTSE 250, 24% of CEOs come from a financial background, the most by a margin of 7%, with manufacturing producing 18%.

As one of the banking capitals of the world, it is understandable that there is a trend within business to entrust leadership to those with demonstrable fiscal skills, and as our recent Salary and Market Guide found (download your copy here), employers look for much more than technical ability from their financial hires. They want to see commerciality, industry knowledge and an ability to work with the operational side of the business.

This steer towards management accounting shows that the Board are nurturing their financial talent, encouraging them to take a more strategic role whilst identifying opportunities for growth. As such, the Board want their financial team to be 'CEO ready', with a pool of talent that are able to compete for the top job.

As someone who helps to develop careers in this sector, I can see the logic in this. Accountants have a clear career path, from trainee to qualification and the route to financial management comes off the back of years studying for a qualification which is universally recognised, as well as gaining the necessary applied technical experience. The nature of the role means that it is vital to consider the needs of the business, the law, as well as fundamentally ensuring profitability.

As a managing director of a growing SME I also see the importance of my financial team, and could not do without my financial director. She provides me with the baseline information that I need to know about the performance of my business, an understanding of how many people we can afford to employ and a forecast of the growth that we can expect. This is critical to me and the Board in determining our business strategy.

However, I do not actually come from a financial background. I've built my business based on my experience in my industry - understanding the financial personnel needs of companies within a range of sectors, from Big 4 to local authority - this gives me a perspective of the challenges and motivations of my team.

My advice to those in the financial profession who are keen to work their way to the top, is to make sure you understand your people and your business. Get to know what makes your colleagues tick, what management techniques work and which don't, be aware of the obstacles that they may face, and what it is that can make them desperate to leave, or willing to stay late to get the job done. Consider your recruitment practices and don't rush the search for talent - sometimes a temporary solution while you find what you really need, can make all the difference.

You have all the technical ability and you are already on the path to lead, but never forget, no business can succeed without a great team.

For more information about the attributes that make up a CEO, and find out if you've got what it takes with the quiz visit Qlik's microsite.

For a confidential discussion about your recruitment needs, please contact me on 0191 261 8585.

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