View from the board: FDs have got talent

Squawkbox on CNBC wanted to talk about the role of FDs and their importance
in today’s society. Bingo, I thought. I know the answer to this one.

However, my point was attacked quite firmly by one of the panel who said that
the role of the FD should be scrutinised far more closely than it had been for
its role in not reducing the excesses of companies over the last few years.

Obviously, I disputed that. But it is worth exploring, because the worrying
problem is that a number of people may suspect there is some truth to it.

You see, the average person on the street thinks that the FD is there to look
after the money.

And, given a number of businesses seem to have a slight lack of that asset
currently, you can understand
why people may find themselves wondering if this might, in fact, all be the FD’s

So, what does this mean to the finance community?

First, the market is starting to see the role of finance as more important
than it did previously.

If some of the current economic malaise is brought to the FD’s door, the
world at large clearly thinks finance could have stopped it.

Secondly, it proves again how vital integrity is if you work in finance.

Thirdly, it shows how essential it is that you speak up if you think the
management is doing something that is not in the best interests of shareholders.

And finally, the chain of events that have caused this is long and occurred
over a number of years.

The finance teams that were working in partnership with the operators felt
those more quickly and were able to react faster.

Their businesses are more likely to win ­ and the winners in this market
could win big ­ and that’s great for the careers of the finance teams working in

You’ll be pleased to know that the interviewer very kindly read out something
Accountancy Age had written about me.

For that reason alone I think you should watch it. The interview is available
Next stop the Apprentice aftershow…

Mark Freebairn is a partner at
Odgers Ray &

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