Networking is the key to getting on, say FDs

Contacts and connections are more important than talent when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder, according to an overwhelming majority of finance directors.

Over 60% of finance directors questioned in this week’s Accountancy Age Big Question , carried out in conjunction with by Reed Accountancy Personnel, said when it came to career advancement, it was who you know, rather than what you know, that counted.

The findings follow a survey by KPMG consulting. Younger business chiefs placed greater importance on networking than older peers, who said merit was more important.

Most FDs thought knowing the right people was vital for getting the initial opening but added this was no substitute for talent and experience.

John Fazakerly, of Lee Crowder, the solicitors, said: ‘In professional villages such as Birmingham, being known is of much greater use than technical wizardry. But you’ve still got to be more than competent.’

Others distinguished ‘networking’ from the phenomenon of the class-dominated ‘old school tie’ phenomenon.

‘Word of mouth seems to be the most effective form of recruitment but I’m not referring to the old-school-tie syndrome,’ said Lars Maynard, financial director of construction agency AMH Holdings.

But 22% of FDs played down the importance of contacts.

‘The emphasis is still very much on experience, focus and ability to do the tasks,’ said Margaret Hough of Ronald Brown Group, the opticians.

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