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Four Lessons for Finance from an Entrepreneur

By Andy Burrows

I started Supercharged Finance in September 2016. It’s my business.

But I’m also a seasoned Finance professional, with 25 years’ experience, including a period as a Finance Director.

I worked in Finance teams, big and small, for most of my career, and then I decided to set up a business of my own. So, I guess that makes me an entrepreneur!

And I’ve felt for a while that if you want to be a good CFO or a good Finance business partner, then starting your own business teaches you important lessons.

The question as a Finance professional, as a CFO or Finance business partner is, “if it was you who owned or invested in this business, how would you run it?”

And what I’ve found is that when it’s your own business – when it’s your baby – as someone trained and experienced in Finance, you definitely use that experience, but there are some things that you start to see more clearly and do differently. Here are...

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Confidence, Communication and Influencing Skills for Finance Business Partnering

By Andy Burrows

I want to give some helpful thoughts today about developing the behavioural skills needed for Finance business partnering.

I’ve written in the past about how essential it is for Finance business partners, CFOs, and indeed Finance professionals in general, to develop behavioural skills. And I know that other Finance writers are talking about this too.

And people are hearing the message, and I get asked about it. One question I received during a Finance careers event went something like this:

“I’ve worked in technical accounting and as a financial accountant, but my ambition is to do the best I can in my career. So, I really want to move to a Finance Business Partner role, as I feel there is more career growth potential in that area. My challenge is that my behavioural skills need a serious boost. What can I do to help improve my communication skills and my ability to influence or persuade my stakeholders, or even to simply be convincing enough at...

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Help! My Finance career has stalled!

By Andy Burrows

Careers these days are bloomin’ difficult to put together and keep on track. No need to talk about the reasons for that. The point is that it takes a lot of intentionality. It takes thought, guts, perseverance, and confidence.

I’m talking about Finance and Accountancy career progression, because that’s what I have experience of. But, gone are the days (did they ever really exist?) when you could just keep doing a solid job and some day you would get called into the higher level job.

And so, when I received the following question in a Finance careers event, it was not a surprise:

“I have been in the same organisation at the same level for 10 years. My main concern is I feel like I am stuck and unable to get the breakthrough to the next level, in spite of my vast experience across industries in various Finance roles.”

This article is aimed at helping you if you can relate to that situation. You feel like your career has stalled....

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Are Finance Business Partners only for big companies?

By Andy Burrows

There is a common frustration among Finance Business Partners.

Many of them almost feel as if they have been mis-sold the role.

They were promised that they’d be close to the business, as writers like me keep saying we must be in Finance. They were promised involvement in important discussions and strategic decisions. They were promised freedom from mundane number crunching.

And yet one of the biggest complaints from Finance Business Partners is that they still seem to spend too much time compiling reports, checking numbers, drilling down, building forecasts, and writing commentaries. And they hardly have any time left to spend with the non-finance colleagues they’re supposed to be partnering with.

And, to be clear, I’m talking about the way that Finance Business Partners feel about their jobs, not the way that others may criticise them.

So, for instance, this is a question that was sent to me during a recent Finance careers event:

“I am...

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Finance isn't just a cost centre... but how do you convince management?

By Andy Burrows

One thing I’ve realised recently is that, in the minds of Finance professionals, the questions over the place and value of the Finance function are closely linked with questions about their careers.

I don’t know why it suddenly dawned on me. It’s kind of obvious when I think about it!

Perhaps it’s just that when I asked a little while ago what questions people had about Finance careers, I didn’t expect to get questions like this one:

“How can you convince top management that the Finance department is not just a cost centre, but way more?”

There were other questions similar to that, but I’ll write about those perhaps in other articles.

Being merely a cost is a career dead-end

Clearly, if we are just seen as costs in the business, then that’s a bit of a dead-end in terms of careers.

The thing any business wants to do with costs is to reduce them. So, if Finance is just a cost, then the only thing you’d want to...

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When to move to a new company or sector in your Finance career

career finance skills Jun 26, 2020

By Andy Burrows

When you’re progressing through your career in Finance, outside of public practice, should you stick to one company, or even one industry sector? Or should you move around? Does it matter?

It’s a question I’ve come across a lot. At a recent Finance Career Growth Masterclass, run by Supercharged Finance, it was one of the most common questions people had.

And the answer is not straightforward. I almost always end up saying, “well, yes and no,” at some point!

Yes, it does matter from one point of view. But it doesn’t from another.

Yes, you should move around in some circumstances. But it’s good to stay put at other times.

And, actually, I think it’s good to have the humility to acknowledge that these choices are not always fully within our control. The important thing is to have an intentional way of looking at it. But I would recommend trying not to get stressed over it if it doesn’t work out exactly the way you...

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'Qualified by experience' is not enough for a Finance leadership career

By Andy Burrows

When people ask me about careers in Finance, one of the questions that comes up regularly is whether you have to be a qualified accountant to get a good Finance role.

So, I thought I’d share the advice I normally give.

Of course, these are my own personal opinions based on over 25 years in the Finance and Accounting profession, having been on both sides of the recruitment equation many times.

I’d love to hear your own perspective, so please comment wherever there is opportunity.

Every country is different

And I’d better start with a caveat up front.

I’m based in the UK, and therefore my experience is mainly drawn from the UK, where there are three main accounting professional bodies – the ICAEW, ACCA and CIMA. The most common route into Finance and Accounting here starts with passing exams set by one of those three bodies. When you pass them all, you are ‘qualified’ and you are allowed to use letters after your name...

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How to get into a strategic role in Finance

accountant career cfo finance Jun 12, 2020

By Andy Burrows

When I ran our Finance Career Growth Masterclass a little while ago, I asked people to send me their Finance career questions. I then did my best to answer those from my experience.

And there were some great questions, and some common themes came out.

So, I thought it would be good to share those with you, along with my thoughts in answering them. So, this is the first in a little series looking at various career questions relating to Finance.

The first one I want to talk about is how to get into a more strategic role in Finance.

But first, I just want to quickly make a brief point.

My answers to the questions are my own personal opinions based on more than 25 years of experience in the Finance and Accounting profession, in many different roles, in businesses of varying size, complexity, sector and geographical diversity.

You may think I’m wrong. You may even think my advice is way off. If so, I want to hear your perspective. Wherever I refer to this article in...

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To be a happy and effective CFO, take care of yourself!

By Andy Burrows

Probably the most important thing to recognise as you develop in your career (and in your life) is that continued progress takes continued effort.

It’s not one-dimensional, either. Many people think – and I’m applying this to Finance people, but it can equally apply to anyone – that continued development is just a case of learning more stuff. We learn accounting, pass accounting exams, and then we progress in our careers by learning more stuff about accounting. Wrong!

Or, worse, we believe that once we’ve got the qualification then it’s just a case of accumulating years and automatically going on up the ladder. Nope! It doesn’t happen like that!

No, to be “the best version of you” you need to attend to four dimensions. And I’ll come on to those in a minute.

And the other element that is important in personal and career development is intentionality. Making effort, even if balanced in the four dimensions,...

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Synergies are not cost savings for the best CFOs

By Andy Burrows

After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant in public practice in England in 1995, I went to manage a Finance department of 16 people in one of the smaller divisions of a big bank.

It was my first experience of management, which was one of the reasons I took the job. I wanted to learn new skills.

Fortunately for me, at that time the bank was revamping its performance management processes and putting everyone from team leaders to senior executives through new management and leadership training.

And that made me reflect quite deeply on what it meant to manage people and lead teams right from the start of my management career.

One of things I quickly realised was that managers and leaders shouldn’t see themselves as delivering personally. It’s the team that delivers together, not the manager alone.

What that meant for me was that, whilst I had my own individual responsibilities, those responsibilities were secondary to ensuring the required output of my team....

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