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How to hire a finance manager



A finance manager is the linchpin of a healthy, successful business. You could have a dazzling product, world-class marketers, and an A-list sales team, but if you’re leaking cash to make it all happen, you won’t be riding high in the sky for long.

That’s where your finance manager comes into play. This individual helps you reconcile past and future spending. From bookkeeping to forecasting, they collaborate across the finance department, working with accountants and financial analysts to document and manage the company’s finances. In short, the finance manager ensures your company makes smart financial decisions in the short term, so that you achieve a positive cash flow in the long term.

If it sounds complicated, that’s because it is. There are many moving parts when managing finances, and the role typically requires a strong background in financial services. But just as important are the “softer” qualities of a great finance manager, from their behavioral makeup to the intangibles they bring to your workplace.

When so much goes into a job like this, you can’t afford to leave your hiring up to guesswork. A recruiter’s “intuition” can quickly turn to bias without the right objective data to guide their decision making.

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Thankfully, hiring doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are four surefire steps you can take to hire a top-performing finance manager:

1. Define the skills and qualities the finance manager role requires.

As mentioned above, financial management tends to require a highly specialized skill set. When searching for ideal candidates, it’s important to consider both the hard skills and soft skills that make for on-the-job success. What are the must-haves your finance manager will need to go about their day?

Start with the hard skills. An ideal candidate’s technical briefcase may include:

  • Excellent financial analysis skills
  • Ability to read and write financial reports
  • Strong knowledge of accounting principles
  • Mastery of Microsoft Excel and data analysis
  • Prior experience in financial planning or risk management

You may also look for candidates who have specific financial certifications. Strong finance managers often have one of the following titles:

  • Certified Public Accountant (CPA): The CPA is a widely recognized license for accountants. It’s administered by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and requires 150 hours of prep work, followed by an exam.
  • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA): The CFA is a popular license for financial analysts, investors, and consultants. It’s administered by the CFA Institute, and consists of three separate exams, each of which requires around 300 hours of preparation.
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP): The CFP is the gold standard for anyone looking to show their expertise as a financial advisor. Administered by the CFP Board, the title requires extensive coursework culminating in a seven-hour exam.
  • Financial Risk Manager (FRM): The FRM certification is administered by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP). It consists of two exams, and requires several hundreds of hours to properly prepare.

As for soft skills, consider the intangible qualities you’d value in a finance manager. This is someone who has a pulse on your organization’s vitals, and is instrumental to a healthy cash flow. What qualities should they exhibit? You may consider candidates who are:

  • Empathetic
  • Honest
  • Ethical
  • Realistic
  • Precise

2. Put the focus on behavioral traits.

As you hone in on the ideal characteristics for the role, make sure you’re also going beyond the briefcase. Years of experience can be important, as can a bachelor’s degree in finance or equivalent major. However, searching simply for technical skills may bottleneck your hiring efforts, and possibly deny you some great candidates.

Instead, put the focus on a person’s heart and mind. What are the behavioral traits you’d value in a good finance manager? What cultural traits do you hope they’d bring to your organization? By asking these questions, you ensure you’re considering the “whole” candidate and all the strengths they may bring to the role.

Let’s put this into practice. When hiring for a finance manager, you likely want someone who’ll treat the company’s finances with the care and precision it deserves. This is a person who will dot every I and cross every T, and approach any major decision with a degree of caution or even skepticism.

When writing a job description for the role, make sure you’re including language that conveys the importance of these behavioral traits. You might use phrases such as:

  • Strong attention to detail
  • Analytical in nature
  • Cautious with risk
  • Task-oriented

By embedding language like this into your job ad, you increase the likelihood of attracting the right talent for the role. That way, you ensure you have a high-quality list of applicants—before you even start the candidate screening process.

3. Use science and smart hiring practices.

Once you have a lengthy candidate pipeline, you may wonder how to prioritize your efforts. Especially if your hiring team is lean, you’ll want to ensure you’re moving forward with candidates who truly fit the profile of the finance manager job. 

This is where science can help. By gathering objective data about a candidate, such as behavioral makeup and cognitive ability, you gain critical insights into their potential for on-the-job success. These insights—also known as “people data”—are fundamental to making exceptional hires. And yet, the more data you amass, the harder it may be to make sense of it all.

Enter PI Hire, a software platform that takes complex hiring data and makes it intuitive. Backed by 65-plus years of behavioral science, PI helps you streamline your candidate pipeline and supercharge your hiring practices. Use PI to set a “Job Target” for the finance manager role. See how candidates measure up to the target, both behaviorally and cognitively, and stack rank the results to find the best fits quicker.

4. Identify and remove hiring biases.

As you look to narrow your list of candidates, it can be tempting to let your gut guide you. Perhaps you went to the same school as a candidate, or you share a mutual connection on social media with another. You may not think twice about these feelings, but in reality, they can lead to personal biases—and a potential mishire.

Instead, keep the focus on objective data. If you’re scanning a resume, make sure you’re considering all other parts of the application—from a person’s skills and values to their behavioral traits and cognitive ability. In doing so, you’ll ensure a fair and holistic screening process for all candidates.

Once you’ve selected a shortlist of candidates, it’s time to move on to the interview phase. Again, you’ll want to rely on data to drive the process. With PI Hire, for example, you can generate interview questions that are tailored to candidates’ unique behavioral profiles. Use these questions to probe for behavioral alignment in a role—or potential red flags. 

Sample interview questions to ask a finance manager candidate

The interview phase is a make-or-break period in the hiring process. This is your opportunity to confirm a candidate’s fit for the role, or investigate areas of misalignment. When interviewing a finance manager candidate, here are some behavioral interview questions worth asking:

  • Tell me about a time your team experienced conflict. What was the resolution? 
  • Do you believe rules are meant to be broken? Why or why not?
  • Say you’re faced with a high-risk, high-reward decision. Can you walk me through your process to arrive at an outcome?
  • Tell me about a time you had to drive a project to completion. What were the challenges and learnings?
  • What does a good finance manager look like to you?
How to hire a finance manager

3 most common Reference Profiles for finance managers

At PI, we’ve taken the complexities of employee behavior and broken them down into 17 PI Reference Profiles. Each Reference Profile represents a unique behavioral archetype. By learning each Reference Profile, you can understand what makes people tick—and what makes certain job candidates shine.

Here are the three most common Reference Profiles among finance managers:

Specialist

Specialists are known for being cautious, collaborative, and precise. They’re loyal to leadership, and will follow company policies to a T. At the same time, Specialists won’t hesitate to flag potential risks, or gaps in the current procedure.

It’s easy to see how a Specialist might make for a strong finance manager. The role requires a keen eye for detail, along with an ability to work as part of a team. Hire a Specialist, and you’ll be gaining an employee who takes pride in great work, while actively making their team better. 

Adapter

Adapters, true to their name, are the most flexible of the 17 Reference Profiles. They can stretch their behavioral chops to fit the need, whether that’s working collaboratively on the big picture, or independently on smaller details.

This versatility can be a boon for the finance manager role. The job tends to require a unique mix of skills—from data crunching to public speaking—and Adapters are known to do it all.

Analyzer

Analyzers live in the details. They crave information, and won’t make a decision without all the available facts on hand. They’re known for being focused, intense, and thorough.

Finance is all about the numbers. You wouldn’t want a finance manager making off-the-cuff decisions, as even the slightest of guesswork could have real monetary ramifications. With an Analyzer, you ensure your finances are in extremely thoughtful hands.

How The Predictive Index helps companies hire top performing finance managers

Hiring managers are often trained to trust their gut. Yet, when you make a decision based on “instinct” or “gut feel,” you essentially leave the outcome up to chance.

Hiring shouldn’t have to feel like guesswork. With PI’s talent optimization platform, you can eliminate the uncertainty of hiring, and hire with confidence. Get behavioral and cognitive insights into your candidates, before you even hop onto a phone screen. Cut down on bias in your interviews and hone in on a candidate’s behavioral alignment to the role. Make hiring decisions based not on gut, but on data.

With PI, you can wave goodbye to mishires—and start putting people in roles where they thrive.

FAQ

Why hire a finance manager?

  • Gain a finance professional and leader to help support your CFO.
  • Reduce short-term expenditures and improve long-term strategic planning.
  • Improve your financial modeling, so you can adapt to changing market and business needs.
  • Improve collaboration between your accounts payable and accounts receivable teams.
  • Ensure your company executes its business plan and hits its financial goals.

What are the types/variations of the finance manager position?

The finance manager title is often used as a catch-all for roles within the finance department. So, when writing a job description, you may want to hone in on a more specific job title. Consider one of these common variations:

  • Financial manager
  • Financial analyst
  • Treasurer
  • Controller
  • Accountant
  • Financial advisor
  • Risk-management advisor

What skills or experience should an ideal finance manager have?

An ideal finance manager will bring an impressive mix of technical and behavioral skills to the role. Here are some of the skills you may want to consider:

  • Strong aptitude for financial analysis
  • Comfortable with problem-solving
  • Can read and analyze income statements
  • Experience writing balance sheets
  • Cautious with risk

Guardian

David is a content writer and editor at PI. He loves Broadway and the Boston Celtics.

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