BCAB – Self-education is the FD route

Chartered accountants with finance director aspirations need to undertake serious self-education to make up for their narrow training, delegates at the BCAB conference were warned.

Charles Rawlinson, recently retired special adviser to West Merchant Bank and a former English ICA council member, said: ‘If accountants want to be FDs, they need to build a wider view of the world and look at their businesses from the outside.’

Presenting a conference session on the skills of good FDs, he said those aspiring to such a position needed to build experience of dealing with shareholders, the City and the banks. He also suggested a good financial controller to look after the number-crunching so that FDs were free to deal with business and strategic issues.

But he warned the chartered accountancy qualification, currently the subject of a syllabus review by the institute, risked becoming outdated.

‘The narrow training is very dangerous,’ he said, adding that if he had his time again he would do an MBA in addition to training as a chartered accountant.

Institute president Chris Swinson said strategic alliances should be developed to offer qualifications ‘packages’.

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