As your business grows, the role of financial manager becomes ever more important. Getting the right person in place at the outset will not only help you run the financial side of the business more efficiently – it will also give you someone to bounce ideas off, a trusted advisor who can provide guidance and reassurance as required.

Running a business can be a lonely task, which is why so many entrepreneurs come to lean heavily on their finance manager. This role is often filled by a former colleague or business partner and the skills involved go beyond number-crunching, which is why previous experience can be useful.

Some of the tasks involved include producing financial reports, contributing to business plans, conducting research into product pricing, and developing financial systems.

Who fits the bill?

Financial managers are typically university graduates, with preferred qualifications being accountancy, statistics, economics, mathematics or management. Some businesses will invest in extra training and qualifications for people they feel are capable of developing in the role and adding greater value to their business.

It is important to make prospective finance managers aware of the demands of the job, such as the need to travel if the business has more than one location and the requirement to work extra hours at peak periods such as the end of the financial year.

The ability to produce financial forecasts is another plus, particularly in fast-moving sectors such as retail.

No hard rule on soft skills

The ideal finance manager is a problem solver, someone capable of understanding the requirements of the business and finding ways of addressing these requirements without taking undue risk. They also need to be able to explain sometimes complex financial information in a way that is easily understood.

In fact, communication is really rather important. Although most small businesses won’t have a finance team, the finance manager will still be expected to work closely with other members of staff as well as with customers. Confidence in their ability to get their message across (whether in person or via other methods of communication) will be helpful.

Individuals who are capable of motivating themselves are a good fit for the role, especially in small enterprises where they are likely to be working on their own at least some of the time.

Don’t fall for flannel

No matter how thorough the selection process or how close the personal relationship might be, people in positions of financial authority have been known to commit fraud.

There are various mechanisms for minimising the risk of being ripped off. These include limiting the size of payments that can be approved by any individual and/or ensuring that payments have to be signed off by more than one person.

In addition, monitoring financial data on a regular basis may give you an early warning of potential fraud. In this context, the information available to users of cloud-based accounting packages such as Big Red Cloud can be invaluable in highlighting anomalies such as duplicate payments, for example.