UK Finance Directors are stepping outside finance

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UK Finance Directors are increasingly stepping outside the world of finance to become a key business partner, according to a new report from Hays, The DNA of a Finance Director – the makings of a finance leader.

UK Finance Directors are increasingly stepping outside the world of finance to become a key business partner, according to a new report from Hays, The DNA of a Finance Director – the makings of a finance leader. Based on research with over 800 UK FDs the report found the vast majority were actively involved in a number of business areas with nearly a third (32%) stating that the operations function is the most important business discipline to partner with. To support this, when asked what top tip they would give to the next generation of FDs, over two thirds (68%) would advise them to ‘get involved with operations not just the numbers’.

Karen Young, Director of Hays Senior Finance, comments, “FDs are increasingly at the centre of many organisations and working hand in hand with all departments and helping set the strategy and overall business direction. This has particularly been the case over the last decade, as they have been instrumental in reviewing the policies and controls within their organisation, which has naturally brought them into close contact with a number of teams but particularly with the operations function as well as sales and IT.”

Over a third (37%) believe the role of the FD will have an increased focus on returns in IT and transformation projects over the next five years.

The report also found that over half of UK FDs have their eyes set on climbing the career ladder, as 29% cited their ultimate career goal as a bigger role such as a Group CFO/FD in a larger organisation, with 31% of men are aiming for the top, compared to only 26% of women, while an ambitious 12% of FDs want the top job of CEO.

Working overseas was viewed as beneficial for their career development as the vast majority (98%) of those FDs who had worked overseas said international experience helped them progress. Europe, North America and Africa topped the list of regions where UK FDs had worked. Over a quarter said a better work-life balance/family reasons would make them consider overseas opportunities. Interestingly, over a third (35%) of men cited work-life balance as a reason they would consider working outside the UK compared to 11% of women.

Young continues, “Our report clearly shows that UK FDs are ambitious and eager to climb the career ladder with the ultimate career goal of a bigger finance role in a larger organisation. How they reach this goal varies but it’s clear that international experience can be of considerable benefit to career progression. Understanding different cultures, laws and accounting practices, particularly in emerging markets, can be invaluable when trying to reach their career ambitions.”

The DNA of a UK FD findings

  •     77% of FDs are male
  •     46% are between 41 – 50 years old
  •     40% hold an ACA/ICAEW qualification
  •     51% have trained in a accountancy firm (i.e. Big 4, Top 20, Top 50, independent, regional)
  •     79% have worked in commerce and industry for the majority of their career
  •     74% say if they had their time all over again they would still be a FD


About DNA of a FD - the makings of a finance leader
The survey was carried out during July and August 2013 among FDs across the public and private across the UK. A total of 827 people responded to some or all of the questions. To access the report visit

About Hays
Note to Editors
Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 30 June 2013 the Group employed 7,840 staff operating from 239 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2013:

– the Group reported net fees of £719 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £125.5 million;
– the Group placed around 53,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 182,000 people into temporary assignments;
– 29% of Group net fees were generated in Asia Pacific, 40% in Continental Europe & RoW (CERoW) and 31% in the United Kingdom & Ireland;
– the temporary placement business represented 59% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 41% of net fees;
– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA

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Deepa Bose
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