Finance: A solid foundation to build a career

Every industry needs finance professionals, and not always in the traditional sense. The good news is finance is no longer the back-office function it once was, and there are a variety of ever-changing roles and clear paths for progression.

According to the 2015 Robert Half FTSE 100 CEO Tracker, 52% of FTSE 100 CEOs have a background in finance. The FTSE 100 CEO Tracker also revealed that 71% of CEOs came from a senior role in the same industry, and 30% joined from another industry. In both cases, these individuals have brought their technical know-how, understanding of their sector leadership experience from other organisations to their new company.

An important take away from the FTSE 100 CEOs career path is that there is no right way to build a career. What is evident though is the benefit a finance background can have on developing your career.

From figures to strategy: finance provides the link

As a finance professional, the knowledge you gain along the way can give you the edge. Having the ability to translate figures into functional commercial insights widens your responsibilities and allows a deeper understanding of a business division or department.

Through business partnering, you can focus on the way departments operate through managing budgets and costs, and advising on potential growth or cost-saving strategies.

To build a successful career, it is important to understand how a business operates commercially. In short, business partnering allows your focus to shift towards the bigger picture and add commercial value to the department you support. From there, you can progress into more corporate-focused positions, which would see you as vital to the success of a division or department.

Using finance to make better business decisions

With the vast amount of financial information available and the surge in big data, finance is no longer in a silo. Businesses recognise that professionals with financial knowledge are well placed for providing insight. Not only analysing trends and correlations between data but also the results derived from it. Finance gives you the skills to draw out insights that can drive organisations towards making more informed business decisions.

Communicating at all levels

As you build you career, there will be a time where the insights you glean from budgeting, financial reporting and data analytics won’t speak for themselves. Meaning communication skills will become essential to conveying findings to non-financial audiences.

The ability to link finance to business strategy is key when communicating financial data to people of all levels in the business. Pairing business acumen with financial data will provide the information in an easy to digest format.

It’s more than the numbers

Business focus is shifting from recovery to growth mode and finance is seen as the guiding light. But still, in order to build a successful career, hard work, ambition and determination is required. While relevant industry experience is highly regarded, so too is specialist insight along with communication, people and leadership skills – all of which you can develop as you progress your career.

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