On the money by Gavin Hinks


I do, you do, finance directors do. In fact, FDs want to be able to go to
analysts and shareholders with the kind of news that will make them tingle with

Sometimes it can’t be that way. Take Andrew Higginson, FD at Tesco, and Ken
Hanna, FD at Cadbury Schweppes (though soon to lose the Schweppes). Last week,
both had bad news to deliver and where were they? Well, like good FDs they were
at the side of their respective CEOs, fronting up and facing the inevitable
grilling that would follow.

In Higginson’s case, it was over growth figures that, while good, didn’t
quite meet forecasts and caused some concern in the City. In Hanna’s case, it
was all about redundancies and making Cadbury tasty again.

Or consider Douglas Flint, group FD at HSBC. This is the bank that had to
write down £5bn in the US, and who is leading the charge to put it right? You’ve
guessed it – Mr D Flint.

It doesn’t always happen like this, though. Remember Richard Baker taking
over at Alliance Boots, going through a string of bad news stories and then
seeing his FD Howard Dodd, abruptly resign.

Or what about Bob Mellors at Sport Direct who caused a furore because he
doesn’t seem overly keen to meet analysts at all.

It’s an issue of confidence. If you believe in your FD you put him out there,
because he’s a trusted man. He’ll watch your back for you and deliver on the
right kind of commitments.

It’s also a sign that the FD is more than just the techie who knows the
numbers. Of course, the FD has to be that, but in the cases above, the FD is so
much more. They’re truly modern financial operators. I salute you.

Gavin Hinks is editor of Accountancy Age

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