Accountancy Age Awards 2001 – Show your strength as a leader.

Fostering innovation, leading change programmes and developing a strategic view – sounds like an managing director’s job but these responsibilities fall increasingly at the FD’s door. And with an economic downturn threatening, the finance director’s job is as demanding as ever.

As FDs are increasingly thrust to the forefront of companies, FSS Financial and Financial Director magazine seek to reward finance chiefs who stand out from the crowd.

Judges are looking for a finance director with outstanding leadership skills based on talent, intuition and hard work. Andrew Sawers, editor of Financial Director magazine and one of the competition’s judges, says: ‘The key thing is the ability to demonstrate leadership: the FD has to show they’ve led a change programme, they’ve taken value-creating initiatives and that they’ve used imagination and skill to affect the way an organisation goes about its business – or even to change the business the organisation does. Reacting to events isn’t enough: FDs have to take control of events.’

In the past year, executive recruitment specialists have found the role of a finance director is no longer just heading the accounts. They take public responsibility for their company’s performance as they face the City to explain their company’s finances. In his work, Sawers also observes this trend: ‘The modern FD has long since moved beyond ensuring all the beans are in the right place,’ he says.

He adds: ‘Today, the FD uses his “access all areas” capability to take a strategic view of the whole business, looking at how all the bits fit together and affect each other, with a view to creating shareholder value and managing business risk. The FD also has to understand what increasingly complex technology can do for the business and for the management of the business.’

Additionally, leading recruiters and research institutes have noted the importance of the ‘soft skills’ in leaders of the finance function, saying FDs need to be more charismatic as they lead a team and face investors.

According to Sawers: ‘Over and above the focus on strategy and value, FDs increasingly need the really soft skills such as the ability to communicate well, to be a leader, to manage change, to foster innovation, to be entrepreneurial.’

Last year, Craig Bennett, FD of The Caudwell Group embodied these key leadership skills and took the award. The CIMA-qualified accountant managed the telecoms company’s finances as it crossed the #1bn turnover threshold.

Bennett heads a team of over 90 accountants in a company that has grown from 25 to over 2,500 employees. Headquartered in Stoke-on-Trent, The Caudwell Group now comprises 14 companies in eight countries.

Although the company’s growth has slowed in the past year, it has not suffered some paralysing downturns as other companies in its sector.

Many finance directors have shown such leadership skills so far leading their companies through this period of economic uncertainty. Dr Ann Simon, for instance, saw pharmaceutical company Bioglan out of the red this year.

Or perhaps the award would go to the colourful Chris Walton who has seen easyJet passenger numbers growing via internet bookings while the world crumbles?

If you know someone who fits the bill, log on to the AccountancyAge Awards site at awards or call the Awards team on 020 7316 9762.

FSS Financial: sponsor of Finance Director of the Year Award

FSS Financial, a Spherion company, is a leading international recruitment consultancy, with offices in the UK, Europe and Australia. From short-term, one-off recruitment assignments to the total strategic management of your workforce, we cover the finance, banking and accountancy markets, from newly qualified accountants up to board-level. Whether permanent, temporary or contract placements, we have the resources to create a fully integrated recruitment solution for all levels.


Closing date: 27 July 2001

Ceremony: 7 November 2001

Venue: Natural History Museum, London

Big Five Firm

Sponsored in 2001 by Navision

Won in 2000 by Ernst & Young Entry is restricted to the Big Five only. All are automatically entered.

Medium Firm

Won in 2000 by HLB Kidsons

Open to firms with 16+ partners (not Big Five).

Small Firm

Won in 2000 by Ford Campbell

Open to firms with 15 or fewer partners

Entrants in all three firm categories will be asked to supply details on their UK activities.

Accounting Technician

Sponsored in 2001 by the Association of Accounting Technicians in association with

Won in 2000 by Colin Stewart, Jackson Stewart & Co

The judges will look for entrants who have demonstrated professionalism, imagination and innovation that has led to success.

Finance Team

Won in 2000 by Reed Business Information

This is a team award for professional excellence in financial management and is open to entrants from any field of industry, commerce or public services.

Accountant of the Year New category: Sponsored in 2001 by ACCA Open to all qualified accountants.

Entrants must be below the level of FD or partner.

Financial Director

Sponsored in 2001 by FSS Financial in association with Financial Director magazine

Won in 2000 by Craig Bennett, The Caudwell Group

This award is for professional excellence in financial management, in any field.

Accounting Software Package

Sponsored in 2001 by Softworld Accounting & Finance

Won in 2000 by TAS Software for TAS Book-keeper (Off-the-Shelf); Exchequer for Exchequer Enterprise (Mid-Range)

OpenAccounts (Enterprise)

Three awards Off-the-Shelf, Mid-Range, Enterprise Systems.

E-business Innovation

New category: Sponsored in 2001 by Sage in association with

This award is open to companies making a difference in the area of e-business, new technology, online initiatives in financial reporting and developments that are making web-based trading happen.

Public Services Achievement

Won in 2000 by David Allcock, Birmingham Heartlands and Solihull NHS Trust

Open to individuals in public service accounting including government departments, local authorities, executive agencies, NHS trusts, housing associations etc.

Annual Report & Accounts

Won in 2000 by The British Land Company

Open to all organisations, the judges will look for the annual report and accounts that clearly communicate financial performance, key drivers and management strategy.

Accountancy Age Personality

Sponsored in 2001 by ICAEW

Won in 2000 by Anne Redston, Ernst & Young

Goes to the personality who has contributed the most to the profession during the year. Voted for by Accountancy Age readers.

New Accountant of the Year

Sponsored in 2001 by CIMA, ACCA

The winners will be decided by the participating accountancy institutes from their newly-qualified accountants.

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