From the outside, the finance department appears to be all numbers, but it’s so much more. The best of finance, what makes being a finance professional what it is, goes beyond accounts and cutting costs, especially for those in a leading role.
Pick your poison
If you piled a crowd of your finance peers into a room, they might work in tax, accounting, auditing, bookkeeping, management, purchasing or any number of areas.
Every business in every industry needs finance. As a finance professional, you have the opportunity to enter into almost any industry and to develop your career in a way that interests you.
The finance profession is male-dominated, but women can still succeed in finance. While there may be social conventions or a glass ceiling to contend with in some businesses and industries, finance is primarily a performance-based profession.
You’re probably tired of the stereotype of finance professionals who cling to their spreadsheets and clutch their calculators, but you know to be successful in finance, you have to tap into skills way beyond the numbers.
They might not offer Public Speaking 101 right next to the Accounting courses at university, but leadership, communication and problem-solving skills are absolutely required to advance in a finance department. You know it’s up to you to keep growing into a well-rounded professional.
The little things like economy, law and business
A financial manager often works behind the scenes, but when something changes in the business world, executives look to their financial leaders for answers and direction to keep the company moving forward.
This means staying on top of the direction of the economy, laws which affect the company and generally maintaining a high level of business intelligence.
You thought passing the CPA test was an accomplishment (it definitely was), but running a finance department and determining the success of a company’s finances proves to be the best achievement.
Along the way, professional development for finance bods is about education hours and keeping certifications current. Finance doesn’t just demand that you be well-rounded, but an up-to-date expert in your field as well.
Reading and role models
While keeping up with designations, you can keep up with the business world by following top news sources like Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg, Reuters and The Economist, which cover the business and finance information that matters most to you.
You won’t find many finance managers with the time to blog or tweet, but they do make the lists of top CFOs, inspire articles for Forbes, offer tips and give interviews about their career and the finance business.
Finance is in the media for more than just its leaders and business news. The ‘big data’ craze has also brought attention to finance strategy. This probably makes a lot of you chuckle since your role has always been about strategy.
But as big data and the tools and apps that come with it becomes an inevitability, you role is having to evolve to build better, better insights and predictions based on multiple sources of information that simply weren’t available a few years ago. It’s an opportunity no matter how the media presents the pros and cons and you can enjoy watching the role of finance evolve.
The joy of finance
The joy of finance is that its focus on the numbers is not limiting, but permissive. As a well-rounded finance professional tackling development, data and anything else with your own arsenal of experience, role models and reading material, you enjoy enabling the company to succeed with the decisions you make.
From the outside, finance may look like spreadsheets and profit margins, markets and bottom lines, but you know your work determines much more than people realise about the direction and success of a company.
What do you love about finance?
(Hat tip to Dennis Wong for the photo)