For career-oriented individuals with a passion for numbers and finance, making deliberate choices and building a strong resume may eventually lead you to become a finance director. The director for finance in an ongoing business supervises different aspects of internal finance, including budget planning and tracking, generating information-based financial projections and recommending key performance initiatives and investments for approval by the executive board. Finance directors will provide guidance for processes such as cash management practices, risk management initiatives and maintaining the appropriate insurance products for adequate coverage. The finance director title may be used for a mid-level to upper management position depending on the size of the company. In smaller companies, the finance director may even be part of the executive team.
Preparing for a Career in Finance
Pursue your interest in finance in various ways, and anything that adds to your knowledge and experience will enhance your career prospects later in life. High schools provide various opportunities to get involved through academic clubs focused on accounting and business. For your undergraduate degree, opt for a bachelor’s in business, business administration, economics or a similar field.
Accounting is the preferred field of specialization because it will provide exposure to most of the technical skills that are crucial for success in record keeping, reporting and analysis of business data. However, focused training in finance provides the high-level analytical skills needed to oversee routine cash and budgeting tasks as well as the complex transactions involved in forecasting trends and managing risks and investments.
Since a directorship is not an entry-level position, employers prefer a candidate with a master’s degree in any of the finance-related fields. A master’s in business administration is helpful, but a master’s in finance with years of progressive managerial experience will turn you into a strong contender for the position.
Gaining Non-Academic Credentials
Understanding of legislative issues is also helpful when you are serious about working your way to becoming a finance director. Knowledge of the guidelines and processes set forth by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, which is the private agency designated by the Securities and Exchange Commission to establish and update generally accepted accounting principles. As finance director, you will have to stay on top of the laws and regulations pertaining to taxation, compensation and benefits and other matters that may apply to your industry.
Earning a certified public accountant or CPA credential will boost your credentials in the field of finance and accountancy. There are other designations that may be worth pursuing, including certified financial planner, accredited financial counselor, accredited wealth management advisor and several others that are listed on the website of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, although this agency does not certify or endorse any single professional designation.
Join industry organizations early in your career, and make sure to demonstrate a keen interest in your chosen career. Active participation in industry events will help you gain recognition among your peers and establish professional relationships with industry leaders that may lead to a mentorship. Network and build your database of contacts through industry events because you may need referrals or insider information on career opportunities in finance in different companies.
Becoming a finance director requires years of preparation in terms of acquiring the necessary skills, honing these skills to mastery level in progressively responsible jobs and demonstrating leadership and people skills at all times. Finance directors are well-compensated with six-figure salaries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expect that jobs for finance managers will increase by seven percent between 2014 and 2024, which is another reason to consider this career path.