Financial Controllers Conference at ICAEW – What Does a CFO Look for in a Finance Team?

Having recently attended the Financial Controllers Conference at ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants of England & Wales) opened by Trevor Williams, Chief Economist of Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, I was pleased to hear his upbeat presentation on Global trends and Risks.

Not being an accountant myself I was pleasantly surprised that what Trevor was talking about actually made sense! Naturally the risks in the Global Marketplace are many and well documented with stability in currency, geopolitics and inflation all featuring high on everyone’s Agenda. Over 150 finance professionals came together at the Institute to hear from peers and experts on a variety of topics. From the macro-economic and geopolitical challenges covered in the Keynote to tax evasion, fraud detection and a discussion around ‘what is 21st Century Finance’ the discussions were interactive and diverse in topic.

There was great insight into what a CFO is looking for in a finance team. Neil O’Brien, CEO of Alkane Energy spoke about his career progression from Practice to Industry and the key learnings he took from this journey. Today, as a CFO Neil is looking for Transparency, Hard Work, Honesty and Integrity from his team. It is a given that the technical accounting skills to do the role are there already. He wants his team to be able to take the numbers and apply comment to these that will help drive the business. To him the value of finance is in the understanding of the data they are delivering back to the business.

He himself has become a story teller and he has to adapt that story depending upon the audience. He has to talk to Shareholders and Internal Stakeholders differently and in ways that each will understand. Recommending that finance integrate with the various aspects of the business and go out to the divisions and talk over revenue reviews; attend tradeshows for a day and meet suppliers and advisers; embracing the whole business creates a buzz and allows for better idea generation on ways to improve what you do today.

The session took storytelling to heart as The Impact Factory held a very interesting interactive session on how to communicate better and how to recognise signs in others of dis-engagement.

The personal development and career paths of a panel of experts closed the day. With most having had a career plan & objective when they started in finance but as with all things planned sometimes fate intervenes and your story takes an unexpected twist. The advice from the experts was, take a risk and seize the opportunities that present themselves to you.