Commercial finance is at the heart of industry and commerce and has a strong focus on consumer transactions. Sectors such as retail, manufacturing, fast-moving consumer goods and leisure employ commercial finance managers to analyse the performance of their products or services and make recommendations to maximize profits. A finance manager might focus on one specific product or offer broader strategic advice to drive the whole business forward, depending on their level of expertise and the nature of the organisation.
The role involves creating the best possible financial controls and structures to enable non-finance functions such as sales, marketing and circulation to streamline their expenditure and make well-informed business decisions. Commercial finance managers might also recomend a price for the product or service, which entails finding a balance between attracting consumers and making a sufficient profit. Other responsibilities include tracking and analysing sales performances against targets and highlighting any variances, forecasting future profits and developing new products and promotions.
Training, qualifying and responsibility
Most graduates join a training programme in industry and commerce where you can gain a professional accountancy qualification while developing your skills in management, persuasion and communication. You are likely to be given a fair amount of responsibility from the start, such as advising on financial controls and providing appropriate information and analysis to help colleagues make key decisions.
Key skills required for graduates
The call for business awareness is self evident in commercial finance and the ability to communicate in a team environment, particularly with non-finance colleagues, is also very important. Strong analytical skills and attention to detail are needed to evaluate figures effectively and any experience in a commercial environment will help demonstrate your understanding of industry.
Best and worst of commercial finance
Commercial finance will give you a valuable springboard from which to launch a career in management: you’ll gain a good understanding of how business works and a lot of exposure to your chosen sector. However, you will need to be prepared for a pressured environment where every decision is reflected in daily sales reports.