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Financial managers work within the public and private sector where they are responsible for providing financial advice and undertaking related accounts administration.

Financial managers are also known as financial or business analysts.

What does a financial manager do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Financial managers advise clients on appropriate business planning and help in decision making processes to ensure that businesses are financially successful. This might involve advising on investments, savings, pensions or insurance products.

A wide range of organisations employ financial managers including: financial institutions, supermarkets, insurance companies, manufacturers, charities, utilities, local government, health authorities, industrial organisations, retailers, universities/colleges, IT companies and engineering firms.

Responsibilities of the job include:

  • collating, preparing and interpreting reports, budgets, accounts, commentaries and financial statements
  • undertaking strategic analysis and assisting with strategic planning
  • producing long-term business plans
  • undertaking research into pricing, competitors and factors affecting performance
  • controlling income, cash flow and expenditure
  • managing budgets
  • developing and managing financial systems/models
  • carrying out business modelling and risk assessments
  • supervising staff
  • liaising with managerial staff and other colleagues.

Vacancies are advertised online, by careers services, specialist recruitment agencies, in newspapers and publications such as TARGETjobs Finance. The professional accountancy bodies also produce vacancy lists, which include training opportunities. Larger employers offer structured graduate training schemes and opportunities to gain experience via placements and vacation ‘taster’ courses. Opportunities to work overseas may be available with some employers. Early applications to major employers are advisable.

Qualifications and training required

A career in financial management is open to both university graduates and school leavers. Graduates may have a degree in any discipline, although employers may prefer qualifications in accountancy, statistics, economics, mathematics, management or business subjects. A relevant degree can reduce the length of time taken to gain professional qualifications with one of the accountancy bodies, enabling exemptions from a number of examinations. A relevant postgraduate qualification and/or previous work experience gained in any commercial area can be useful.

School leavers can enter the profession by first gaining entry-level qualifications with a professional accounting body and working up. For more information, see our accountant job description, as well as the finance sector of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers.

Key skills for financial managers

Employers look for evidence of good oral and written communication skills, self-motivation, commercial awareness, initiative and the ability to work as part of a team. Excellent problem-solving, analytical, technical, IT and numerical abilities are crucial.

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