As a finance manager, you possess the quantitative skills and critical reasoning you need to perform well in your role.
But what separates you from the high-flyers in your field, who have earned promotion after promotion to end up in much more senior roles than yourself?
It’s because what separates the good from the great finance managers aren’t the technical skills. It’s the intangible skills that make a finance manager great.
Intangible skills are always difficult to quantify. But if you acquire them, you will see immeasurable results.
Here are 4 intangible skills that every great finance manager has.
1. Being a Problem Solver
To be an effective leader, you must always focus on finding solutions to problems.
Problem solving is not possible with a rigid mindset. It takes flexibility and being receptive to new ideas to find new ways of tackling complications at work.
Essentially, being a problem solver is always about finding opportunity in adversity. For example:
- Is there a better way to handle an underperforming colleague? Maybe there are options for putting him or her back on track.
- Are my current systems able to handle the company’s transaction volume? Maybe an upgrade to an ERP system might do the job.
- Are my systems set up to measure our performance? There could be BI tools and dashboards that could capture my KPIs better.
By asking the right questions, and always looking for more efficient solutions, you too can take your first step on the path to being a great financial manager.
Take a look at some resources that could help you in your problem solving endeavours.
In addition, never assume that only you would know the best way to get things done. Keep an open mind towards new ideas, and make use of feedback and suggestions from others.
2. Organised and Systematic
All great leaders possess good organisational skills. They have standard operating procedures for every process, down to the simplest and most mundane tasks.
A great financial manager will have built a system for a wide range of situations. This ranges from handling interpersonal relations, to adaptability to adverse circumstances amongst others.
What’s most relevant to a finance manager is a system for achieving 3 objectives;
- Increasing accuracy by reducing errors
- Speed of processing relevant information
- Mental discipline and focus during times of uncertainty
Having a system provides an effective financial manager with a step-by-step approach to any task, reducing the likelihood of costly errors.
One way for you to build an effective system of your own is to exploit resources that are useful for this purpose. For example, you can utilise accounting software, ERP and Power BI to systemise your processes, making it more efficient to retrieve the information you need.
With a system for handling difficulties supported by such powerful resources, a great financial manager can help their team navigate stressful situations with confidence.
3. Employs Creativity In Their Work
Financial managers tend to associate “creative” and “finance” with dubious accounting practices, and are generally not a visionary lot.
However, creativity is one of the factors that distinguish the great financial managers, and so it pays to apply your creative juices to your duties.
To exploit your natural creativity, learn to stop fearing the spectre of failure. This may conflict with your inclination to be risk-averse, but the chance of failure is part and parcel of trying new things.
Besides, failure itself can be valuable. They are learning experiences that can inform future decisions, and there’s a reason it’s called “the mother of success”.
Besides, being creative in your problem solving doesn’t mean gambling with your company’s money.
The right resources can help a financial manager take calculated risks that usually pays off. For example, advanced reporting tools such as those from Jet Global puts real-time data and analytics at your fingertips, which can prove invaluable in informing your decisions.
4. Knows how to Delegate
Last but not least is delegation of duties. It is not easy to assess the abilities of your direct reports accurately, and what tasks they’re best suited to handle.
Someone who lacks sufficient technical knowledge for the task might not be able to deliver satisfactorily. An expert, on the other hand, might over-deliver and over-complicate a simple task.
To stay on top of things, a great finance manager knows precisely who to delegate to and when to delegate.
A good rule of thumb is the 70% rule - If the job can be done 70% as well by someone else, get them to do it. You can do quality checks afterwards to perfect the work done.
Delegation is not solely reserved for humans. You can also delegate your tasks to resources such as an ERP system. For tasks requiring accuracy and speed, ERP systems such as SAP Business One or Oracle – NetSuite in the hands of a trained user are a solid choice.
The Formidable Finance Manager
The combination of these 4 intangible skills makes a formidable finance manager.
Unlike technical skills, they are difficult to detect and takes time to develop.
With newer backend solutions, tools and skillsets being added to the market, creative managers with problem solving skills will capitalise on newer solutions to carry out their work more effectively.
A decade ago, a finance manager needed only to deal with numbers and people. To be a great financial manager today, you have to be aware of IT solutions, its capabilities, and what you can delegate to it.
If you’re interested in learning more about this, have a look at some of the resources that are available to you.