What Does It Take To Be A Senior Finance Manager?

Nydia Bird | 29 October 2021

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Considering that there is now a bigger focus globally on being financially conscious, the demand for senior finance managers shows no sign of slowing down. In Singapore alone, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) estimates that the financial sector jumped by 6% in the first half of 2021. Wealth management, banking, and insurance positions are said to be among the 6,500 most common new job openings this year.

So what does it take to be a senior finance manager? Here, we are going to break down the basic requirements and list the skills that make these professionals so sought after.

Educational Requirements and Licences:

A bachelor’s or master’s degree

Any senior finance manager must have completed a bachelor’s degree in either accounting, economics, or finance. Depending on the specific company or employer, managers may need to have earned their master’s degree within the same concentration. In some cases, before finance managers can move into senior positions, they need an MBA. What’s more, the colleges or universities they graduated from must be recognised as an official educational institution. Meanwhile, though not necessary, a CPA or CFA is an added plus for most employers looking to hire finance managers.

Significant and successful work experience in the field

A senior finance manager must have at least 5 years of proven experience in the financial field. Senior finance managers must also have successfully completed their tasks and tenure as a junior and associate in their specific concentration. This means that if a senior finance manager works in the retail industry, they will need to have the knowledge and abilities relating to the aforementioned retail focus.

Important Soft and Hard Skills

Strong business investing acumen

Part of a senior finance manager’s responsibilities includes providing advise on an employer’s investment strategies. Investing is an incredibly nuanced area, so finance managers must have a good understanding when it comes to various investment opportunities. Traditional options, like stocks, require patience and diligence. This is especially important, as it is described as a “zero-sum game” by mutual fund veteran John C. Bogle in his book, The Little Book of Common Sense Investing. The stock market can be a profitable option for diversification. Though aside from traditional options, a senior finance manager must be well versed on the intricacies of contemporary finance disruptors as well, like cryptocurrency. This allows them to invest effectively, without compromising the company’s money.

Ability to translate financial reports into actionable points

Aside from interpreting a company’s numbers and records, a senior finance manager must have the added ability to translate these into actionable recommendations. Because they are able to oversee the business’s cash flow, they can give relevant suggestions that cover the present and future financial well-being of the company. According to Simple Numbers, Straight Talk, Big Profits! by Greg Crabtree and Beverly Blair Harzog, it’s these financial metrics and the insights gained from them that make a business thrive. This is because such insight grants a company a greater understanding of their finances, allowing them to allocate funds to areas that will benefit them in the short and long-term.

Good interpersonal collaboration and communication skills

As a senior finance manager, the responsibility to liaise and correspond with different departments and third-party vendors requires acute collaboration and communication skills. Considered as two of the most in-demand soft skills in 2021 by LinkedIn, these enable senior finance managers to accurately monitor a company’s compliance, oversee the operational processes undertaken by junior finance officers, and make sure that their recommendations are being appropriately carried out with regards to the operational needs.

Digital literacy with the newest software

To keep up with the massive amount of data, senior finance managers must also be proficient in the latest financial software. Although Excel is still widely used by many finance professionals, using such outdated software can result in errors, reduced data transparency, and can increase complexity. Hence, senior finance managers must also be up to date when it comes to the latest software like SQL, Access, and LucaNet.

Senior-level finance experts have always been essential in the business industry. However, with the expected economic bounce-back, senior finance managers will be absolutely vital for both small- and large-scale enterprises in the new normal.

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