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      What Makes the Perfect SME CFO?

      In today’s fast-paced business environment, the role of a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is more critical than ever. But what exactly makes a perfect SME CFO? We’ll explore the eight key traits that set exceptional CFOs apart from the rest.

      The Eight Key Traits of a Perfect SME CFO:

      1. Integrity
        You are the guarantor of the business’ financial health both internally and externally, and people (and their families) rely on you for their financial well-being.
        > Be honest, treat people well, and have full transparency in everything you do.

      2. Clear Communication
        Collaboration is key, and there is no room for ambiguity when it comes to executing actions that will affect the entire business.
        > Communicate clearly, deliver tough messages with confidence, and use charm to influence internally and externally.
        > Good social skills are a must for any CFO.

      3. Strategic Thinker
        Having a strategic mindset will make it easier to spot problems at a distance, provide solutions quickly, and execute smoothly.
        > Think strategically for every department within the business and make the right decisions at the right time.
        > Have a long-term strategic plan that you and your CEO/MD share.
        > Remember – when it comes to executing an exit plan, you will be the most important person in the room!

      4. Leadership
        Beyond Finance An effective CFO will help take the business to the ‘next level,’ and you will need the skills to be able to take people with you on that journey.
        > Set clear goals for your team, deliver on your promises, and take time to develop your employees.
        > You’ll need your team to over-deliver at times, and having influence through supportive leadership will make this possible.

      5. Simplification
        No one wants the CFO to overcomplicate things. You can lose ‘the room’ and alienate colleagues who could start to undervalue what you do.
        > Find a way of explaining complex issues simply.
        > Automate where you can, streamline processes, and use technology.
        > Develop the ability to ‘paint a picture’ for those outside of Finance.

      6. Compliance & Risk Assessment
        The business trusts you to know the rules – so make sure you do. Either know everything you need to know or hire someone who does.
        > Understand your IFRS from your GAAP and your regulatory environment.
        > Understand tax implications and take advice where needed.
        > Assess the implications of every financial decision you make, as your name is above the door.

      7. Understand Your Business
        A good CFO is not just a numbers person. Immerse yourself in the operations of the business and take time to understand the market and your competitors.
        > See yourself as the co-pilot – you will not be able to land the plane if you don’t know how it works!

      8. Know the Numbers
        This one is so obvious it almost did not make the top eight, but don’t underestimate this.
        > Know your cash/liquidity position, report your numbers on time, and have answers to questions that you know will be asked.
        > Forecast accurately and buffer well to anticipate problems well ahead of time.
        > No CEO will forgive you if you keep presenting financial surprises.

      The perfect SME CFO is a strategic thinker, effective communicator, and strong leader who understands the business inside out. By possessing these eight key traits, CFOs can drive growth, mitigate risks, and help their organisations thrive in today’s competitive landscape.

      Trace has a long-standing record of hiring successful Finance Directors and CFOs into some of the best businesses in the UK. We specialise in Financial Services, Commerce, and the Not-for-Profit sectors and work on a retained or exclusive basis for most senior hires.

      Our leadership team has an enviable network, having been established in these markets for over 20 years each, so our reach is vast and far beyond that of traditional recruiters. We take our responsibilities seriously and never fail to attract senior finance leaders who deliver on the above characteristics.

      If you’re an FD or CFO looking for a change or just some advice, please get in touch with me. If you are a business that needs to attract a Finance leader that will help your business grow, then please do get in touch for a confidential discussion; gareth.cowan@tracerecruit.com / 0207 042 8422.

      Thank you for reading.

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