PracticeAccounting FirmsThe FDs’ FD: to be a winner

The FDs' FD: to be a winner

Over the last six months this column has increasingly focused on how to survive the financial turmoil and dramatic impact on the ‘real economy’

It has tended to dwell on the negative attributes of this turbulence and
recommended actions for FDs and their teams to take to mitigate the
implications.

But this week, given this is the 2008 Awards edition of Accountancy
Age
, I am going to concentrate on being a winner.

There are not many situations that foster such high emotion, adrenalin and
happiness as being a winner. In November 2006, following the takeover of BAA, I
found myself out of work (or ‘pursuing other opportunities’) and feeling
somewhat aimless.

That was until the star-studded, champagne infused evening of 16 November
2006 in Battersea Park, when I unexpectedly found myself the amazingly proud
winner of the Blue Chip Finance Director of the Year Award.

As I shook hands with William Hague, my demeanour and self-belief were
transformed. Not only was I delighted to have received such recognition, but my
credibility and positive attitude were reinstated.

I realised I had been and would continue to be a winner, despite the
situation, as long as I retained a positive approach to the future.

By taking action now, planning ahead and remaining positive, instead of
letting events catch you unaware you can ensure you emerge from the chaos as
winners.

Today’s winning FDs are rethinking their approach to future financial
management, particularly the management and use of cash; devoting considerable
time and energy to their relationships with lenders, customers and suppliers;
reducing dependency on bank financing and pursuing alternative sources of
credit, while seeking to reduce the level of leverage within the company;
forecasting the implications of various scenarios and ensuring they retain
flexibility and agility to respond; managing honestly and transparently their
stakeholders’ expectations in a timely way, with no surprises; understanding how
they can turn this situation to their advantage by realising the opportunities
presented.

As Andrew Higginson, CFO of Tesco, told a group of delegates at the Financial
Director Summit in late September: ‘Do not think you cannot grow, because if you
do think this, you will not grow. Think you will win.’

If you are positive about the future, but also realistic, you too will be a
winner.

Margaret Ewing is partner and vice-chairman of
Deloitte.
She formerly served as CFO of BAA

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