PracticeConsultingTime for FDs to change

Time for FDs to change

Sir John Harvey Jones made his name turning round ailing businesses, not least ICI. Now he has turned his trouble-shooting gaze on to finance directors.

FDs, he tells Accountancy Age this week, must change the way they work, the way they think and the way they are trained.

Sir John is a provocative sort, deliberately so, but his words should not be dismissed as scaremongering.

It is the FD who effectively operates the number two slot in most companies and it is the FD who is required to take a lead- in Sir John’s words he or she has to be nothing less than a visionary.

But are many FDs really ready for that role? Take e-business. Too many of the FDs attending the Finance Directors Forum last month showed a worrying lack of engagement with the online revolution. They could talk passionately about leadership. Governance provoked lively debate. But e-business was treated as a secondary issue.

Its impact on the finance department appeared to be seen by many FDs as a transactional issue, not one that could change the very nature of their business.

Perhaps you can forgive FDs for not engaging with the debate so far. After all, multibillion pound forecasts of e-business growth rarely appear to be based on real profit predictions by real companies.

But engage they must if UK plc is to avoid lasting damage. As Sir John says, unless they change, ‘FDs won’t have companies to go to.’

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