FC to FD – one letter could rarely represent such a big change
As you progress your career there are some steps that are bigger than others and FC to FD is one of those. Whilst some take the transition in their stride, others take some time to adjust to what is a bigger change than many anticipate – myself included!
As an FC, your self-worth and value to your employer is usually measured in terms of:
- Timely accurate measurement
- Insightful analysis to explain and offer opportunities for improvement
- Some commercial gain opportunities – often focussed around cost control rather than “trading opportunities”
- Management of people
As I made the move from FC to FD, I was asked by one business whether I wanted to be a “Treasurer or a Trader” as an FD. I had thought about the changes in role, but didn’t see it in a polarised way as one or the other. I thought the treasurer bit was the “table stakes” but was really excited to use my experience to find “trading” opportunities. In reality I found my role within the board to be the conservative, identifier of risk role and never really got the chance to be the speculator. I moved on to my second FD role, before I really got a chance to promote my own ideas on how to grow the business.
When you move to FD, one of the biggest challenges I found was letting go of all the things that had established my worth in the past. Against each of the four bullet points above that I let go of, I found new angles and new expectations as follows:
- Timely accurate measurement became… an ability to sense check number (to assist with accuracy) and ask questions about what wasn’t analysed or was missing to really drive decision making
- Insightful analysis to explain and offer opportunities for improvement became… requesting analysis to be done and thinking beyond numbers to what I had heard or seen as the business operated.
- Some commercial gain opportunities – often focussed around cost control rather than “trading opportunities” became… asking for scenarios of how cost could be reduced and “what if” scenarios of investment and change of focus.
- Management of people became… leading people (which is more about setting the vision and inspiring the team to move in the right direction and focus on particular things). Leading people is a lot about your own behaviours and discussions and less about setting tasks and measuring their completion.
Personally, I found it hard to let go of the deliverables and tasks that had justified my role as an FC. But a straight-talking FC, who was my succession, helped me transition to a new role, and also helped me make their progression as successful as it could have been. We are still friends 15 years after we worked together!
The transition from FC to FD doesn’t seem to be talked about much – if you have experience of how you successfully progressed from one role to another or have thoughts on my take on it – I’d love to hear from you!
Alistair Moore – Chairman, Trace Recruitment