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As your business grows, the role of financial manager becomes ever more important. Getting the right person in place at the outset will not only help you run the financial side of the business more efficiently – it will also give you someone to bounce ideas off, a trusted advisor who can provide guidance and reassurance as required.

Running a business can be a lonely task, which is why so many entrepreneurs come to lean heavily on their finance manager. This role is often filled by a former colleague or business partner and the skills involved go beyond number-crunching, which is why previous experience can be useful.

Some of the tasks involved include producing financial reports, contributing to business plans, conducting research into product pricing, and developing financial systems.

Who fits the bill?

Financial managers are typically university graduates, with preferred qualifications being accountancy, statistics, economics, mathematics or management. Some businesses will invest in extra training and qualifications for people they feel are capable of developing in the role and adding greater value to their business.

It is important to make prospective finance managers aware of the demands of the job, such as the need to travel if the business has more than one location and the requirement to work extra hours at peak periods such as the end of the financial year.

The ability to produce financial forecasts is another plus, particularly in fast-moving sectors such as retail.

No hard rule on soft skills

The ideal finance manager is a problem solver, someone capable of understanding the requirements of the business and finding ways of addressing these requirements without taking undue risk. They also need to be able to explain sometimes complex financial information in a way that is easily understood.

In fact, communication is really rather important. Although most small businesses won’t have a finance team, the finance manager will still be expected to work closely with other members of staff as well as with customers. Confidence in their ability to get their message across (whether in person or via other methods of communication) will be helpful.

Individuals who are capable of motivating themselves are a good fit for the role, especially in small enterprises where they are likely to be working on their own at least some of the time.

Don’t fall for flannel

No matter how thorough the selection process or how close the personal relationship might be, people in positions of financial authority have been known to commit fraud.

There are various mechanisms for minimising the risk of being ripped off. These include limiting the size of payments that can be approved by any individual and/or ensuring that payments have to be signed off by more than one person.

In addition, monitoring financial data on a regular basis may give you an early warning of potential fraud. In this context, the information available to users of cloud-based accounting packages such as Big Red Cloud can be invaluable in highlighting anomalies such as duplicate payments, for example.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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