CB Recruitment Blog

How to Become A Director of Finance in 2023

Cover image for How to Become A Director of Finance in 2023

The ambitious accountant aspires to become a director of finance. It’s a high-profile job that carries not insignificant responsibilities. This post is a step-by-step guide to discovering if you are ready to take the next step in your financial career and become a finance director for a Web3 company.


What does a Director of Finance do?

Firstly, a finance director is a senior role. It may not be the sexiest job on the block, but a director of finance is responsible for an organisation’s entire finances, such as: –

  • Financial development
  • Managing cash flow
  • Budgets
  • Financial forecasting
  • Financial reporting
  • Mitigating risks

The finance director heads up the financial department, so leadership skills are necessary for this role. In addition, you’ll need the confidence to work with the C-suite, including the CEO, helping them navigate the business’s finances, making essential decisions and meeting financial KPIs.

What Soft Skills does a Finance Director Need?

Above all, a finance director needs people skills and expert financial acumen.

Personal (soft) Skills include: –

  • Excellent communication at all levels
  • Positive attitude
  • Proven track record of effective leadership
  • Mentoring junior staff
  • Negotiating
  • Relationship management
  • Quick-thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Ability to have a holistic overview of a business
  • Driven
  • Commercial awareness
  • Forward-thinking: The ability to project future financial scenarios from today’s data

Moreover, to strengthen your application for a position as director of finance, it can help if you have qualifications for people management and leadership.

What Qualifications does a Director of Finance Need?

Foremost, organisations expect a finance director to possess an industry-recognised professional accounting qualification. For example, the following three qualifications are the most common for the route to accountancy: –

  1. Associated Chartered Accountant (ACA)
  2. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA)
  3. Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA)

All three of the above qualifications take considerable work to qualify. Therefore, it’s not a fast-track process and not for the faint-hearted. However, once qualified, the road opens to the highway of financial opportunities.

In addition, most organisations expect candidates to have an MBA in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in accounting or finance. Likewise, some companies insist on a 2:1 as a minimum standard for applicants. Others request a postgraduate financial degree or a similar topic.

Moreover, during your training, you may find a liking for a specialist area of accounting and finances, such as treasury management, tax or auditing. Applicants with expert specialist knowledge and experience are typically in high demand. Subsequently, it can give you a significant edge over the competition.

Do you need Experience to Become a Finance Director?

Yes. Because of the job’s responsibilities, you must have measurable experience of a financial trajectory of moving into and becoming successful in more senior positions. How long this process might take depends on the individual and the size of the organisation hiring you.

In addition, from the outset, try to focus on a specific industry you’d like to target. For example, perhaps you are interested in Web3 startups. Therefore, after qualifying, start targeting your job campaign at metaverse companies, for instance. Take an entry-level accountancy job, making it clear to the company that you wish to progress your career with them.

For your work experience, focus on developing the following skills: –

  • Managing financial projects
  • Improving financial processes
  • Delivering measurable results
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Motivating and leading others
  • Collaboration with a team
  • Demonstrate adaptability
  • Value-driven

Build a solid track record. Map your career targets step by step, transitioning into the ascending ladder of career moves, aiming for a financial controller position or other senior roles. As a result, you are preparing for your ultimate dream finance director job.

Technical Skills for Director of Finance

To reach the lofty position of finance director, a company will expect you to have the knowledge and experience to answer any question relating to accounting and finances. Subsequently, you will acquire many technical skills during training for qualification. The rest will come from experience in real-world scenarios.

Commit to continuous professional development, seeking opportunities to update and improve your skills. The greater your ability, the more value you provide to an organisation. Moreover, a finance director with a significant base of skills and experience can command a higher salary.

Commercial Skills for Finance Directors

A director of finance without commercial acumen is as helpful as a chocolate fireguard. From the outset, decide to gain the commercial awareness skills necessary to help a business succeed with its financial objectives.

Gaining commercial awareness takes time and aptitude. Begin by never accepting a situation at face value. Be curious. Ask questions. If the answer is “this is the way we’ve always done it“, find out if that approach has worked for the company. The finance director is responsible for driving financial growth and cannot do a great job if they do not understand the commercial implications of a business decision related to finances.

You may sometimes deal with entrepreneurial founders with the technical knowledge, experience and creativity to build something impactful. However, maintaining and building a business requires business acumen, and that’s where the finance director plays a crucial role in taking a business to the next level without breaking the bank and bleeding cash flow.

Primarily, you may face challenges if a business owner or director(s) disagrees with your ideas and decisions. Creatives are notorious for feeling like the finance directors clip their wings, stopping them from jumping into the market with a sparkling new idea.

Above all, you must be able to calmly ride through the tantrums and succinctly simplify and explain the benefits of your thought processes. In addition, you may find you are constantly questioning and challenging the decisions of others, and that can be an exhausting aspect of the job. For this reason, a person with exceptional relationship-building and leadership skills will have an easier job navigating the challenges.

Relationship Building and Leadership skills

You’ll be working closely with a CEO, who may or may not have good communication skills or a cooperative nature. Although your role is supportive, you are the expert in financial matters. Therefore, you must find a way to support the CEO and have the courage and diplomacy to challenge decisions and opinions and offer more beneficial solutions.

Confident, strategic and authentic leadership will help enthuse team members, inspiring and engaging them to support your decisions. In addition, aspiring finance directors can inspire and motivate a team to achieve goals and objectives.

Make leadership and relationship-building a priority as you navigate your journey towards your dream finance director job. These vital skills on your CV help you stand out from candidates who may have accounting qualifications but aren’t good at working with a team.

An inspiring leader helps create a cohesive team, which can help increase retention and engagement rates. Employees will tolerate an organisation’s shortcomings if their leader is someone they trust and has their back 100%, supporting their growth, well-being and career aspirations.

Work on relationship-building and leadership skills, such as: –

  • Empathy
  • Active listening
  • Compassion
  • Consideration
  • Negotiation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Understand different personality types: Study the Myers-Briggs or Keirsey personality model. An excellent book is “Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types” by David Keirsey

To work as a finance director, you are probably an ambitious person, and that’s a good thing. Drive and ambition are necessary for this demanding role, and it takes considerable effort to progress your career to attain your objectives for this senior role.

Director of Finance Salary

Your salary will depend on your experience and the sector. In the UK, finance director’s salaries are from £95,000 to £120,000

Top Tips to Become a Finance Director

Before you plunge into the long journey and hard work of attaining your dream job, there are a few steps to help you discover if working as a finance director is what you truly want for a long-term career.

You know the skills and qualifications needed because we’ve covered that together, so what’s the next step?

#1 Start with your Why

It’s easy to get pushed or pulled by society, family, colleagues, friends and peers into believing we need to be or do certain things in our lives and careers. Simon Sinek wrote a fabulous book called “Start with Why“, and although it is business related, it’s a remarkable process for identifying what makes you feel engaged and alive.

Write down the things that are important to you, such as: –

  • Values
  • Beliefs
  • Interests
  • Motivations

When we’re younger, we believe it’s essential to earn as much money as possible and get to the top of our careers. However, there’s always a price. You can’t imagine your life in the hindsight of age, but nobody ever said on their deathbed, “I wish I’d spent more time working.”

The underlying “why” behind your motivation will help you create a clear, authentic strategy for reaching your career objectives. If you’re going to carve a fabulous career as a finance director, underpinning it with your why is the best way to shape your goals.

#2: Research

Don’t jump blindly into the market without considering what sector or industry you prefer, what experience that sector may require and if you have sufficient industry knowledge. Dig deep into your research. It will pay dividends when it comes to interviewing time.

Suppose there are ten applicants for one director of finance job. Nine are highly qualified, have excellent leadership skills and are perfect for the job. Oh, er, should you go home? No, hold on. Don’t be so fast. Listen. You have done a ton of research and know so much about this sector you could write a book. You can talk confidently and answer every single question. Wow, look at you!

Now, the interviewer asks the other nine applicants specific questions about the sector, and they all splutter a bit and bluff their way through the answers.

You’re last in.

The interviewer is tired, bored, fed up, and wonders if they’ll ever find the perfect candidate for the job. Wearily, they ask you questions about the sector, and you immediately light up like a giant sparkler. Honestly, it’s like you’re the BBC of their industry. The interviewer sits back, smiles, relaxes, enjoys discussing your love of the sector, and thinks, “Hmm, I think we’ve found our guy (or gal).”

Two days later, you get a job offer. Whoop!

Top tip: Be different. Stand out, be yourself, and don’t be a dull Joe like everyone else. Research like your life depends on it, and, by default, you are doing what others can’t be bothered to do.

#3: Gain Relevant Experience

Now you’ve done your research like a pro. It’s time to get some experience in the sector you have decided upon. Above all, stay flexible. You may dislike the chosen sector, so be prepared to change your mind. However, avoid hopping from one industry to another if you can help it, as that could delay your chances of applying for senior financial roles.

Gain commercial awareness and identify the typical problems associated with your chosen sector and brainstorm solutions. Listen to financial podcasts from industry experts and stay ahead of trends in the industry.

Above all, consistently aim to gain the most knowledge, experience and skills so you are ready for that magic moment when a new employer says, “We’d love to hire you as our finance director. When can you start?”

Conclusion: How To Become A Director Of Finance In 2023

So, there you have it. You know the steps you must take to pursue your dream job in finance. Above all, it’s a senior job with many responsibilities, and it’s not for everyone. However, if you love accounting, have excellent leadership skills and are excited about helping a company and its team to achieve business growth and maintain good cash flow, it could be the right job for you in 2023.

To sum up, perhaps you want to focus on Web3 opportunities and work for a metaverse, DeFi or Fintech company. You may enjoy working with a startup company or prefer an established organisation. Either way, talk to our specialist team at CB Recruitment and let’s explore your options.



James helped me find a great job at Southend Borough Council during the Covid 19 pandemic, I couldn’t recommend him enough. He was with me through every step and did everything he could to keep me updated and reassured when I needed it.

James Bridge
Assistant Engineer at Southend on Sea Borough Council

About Author

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Jan Barley

Jan is a SEO copywriter, brand advisor, content strategist & case study specialist writing for crypto, recruitment, and SaaS companies. Jan lives in the Cotswold's UK with two rescue dogs. Since 2020, Jan has written hundreds of SEO articles for various crypto companies including CB Recruitment & Coin Bureau.

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