The role of a CFO

Richard Francis talks to SRM Recruitment about the role of the CFO
Richard Francis talks to SRM Recruitment about the role of the CFO
Richard Francis, CFO at Netcentric

While some leaders have a clear career path mapped out from the outset, for others the journey evolves. We speak to Richard Francis, CFO at global digital service provider Netcentric, to hear what lessons the twists and turns in his career path have offered him, the changing role of a CFO and the future of the finance team.

Did you always know you’d work in finance, Richard?

Not at all. At university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I went to a careers fair, got chatting to someone from Deloitte and they persuaded me to consider audit. After I graduated, I joined their audit team in Crawley. It was a good experience, getting to work with lots of big clients, like GM, but I realised quite quickly that I wasn’t interested in staying in practice. The main issue I had was that the decisions I made were for other people – I wanted to be in on the action. 

What was your first role in industry?

I joined Duracell in their finance and tax team. The real breakthrough for me was when Gillette acquired Duracell. I got to see the systems integrate and my eyes were opened to a whole new area of finance. Instead of just looking backwards at tax returns, I was involved in forward-looking trends, standing up in front of the Managing Director to say why the business was going left or right.

How did you find working for a large corporation?

I realised quite quickly that it wasn’t for me. It seemed as though there were meetings about meetings, you had to ask your boss to ask their boss a question. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. At the time there was a lot of buzz about technology, the internet was just starting off, so I decided on a complete change of industry and moved into a software company. It wasn’t great timing – I arrived just before the dot com explosion. The share price went down about 75% the week after I joined. It wasn’t my fault I hasten to add! But it was a big wake-up call – you have to make quick changes to survive. I also learned that you shouldn’t make lots of little restructures, otherwise people are constantly looking over their shoulder. You have to make big changes, quickly.

What are the advantages of working for a smaller firm?

I’d say there are three main upsides of working for a smaller organisation:

  1. You can make things happen. You’ll be given accountability to get on and do something, such as setting up an office, which in a larger company would be reserved for more senior colleagues.
  2. You’ll see a quicker impact from your actions. Once you make things happen, for better or worse you’ll see the results more quickly than in a bigger organisation where risk aversion is rife and decision making is slower or doesn’t happen at all.
  3. There’s a lot more variety. Only in a smaller company can you be talking to a customer in the morning then reviewing a lease in the afternoon. The role of a CFO in a smaller organisation spreads across wider functions, including sales, HR, IT as well as the wider aspects of finance. In a big corporate you’ll be more limited to the finance department, and you’ll have to specialise, such as forecasting, or tax.

What has been the biggest project you’ve worked on?

When I joined Day Software (a web content management company) which was listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange, the share price was going down, like everyone else’s, thanks to the financial crisis. It was a good chance to restructure the company. After we restructured the business, it grew by 50% a year. In 2009, it became the best performing stock on the Swiss stock exchange. 

In 2010 Adobe wanted to buy us. At that point between March and July of that year, I lost my life! I was that dad doing conference calls whilst pushing my children on swings and arguing with lawyers in Sainsbury’s. Marrying a listed Silicon Valley company with a listed Swiss company was very rare and very difficult – it was a big deal at the time. Lining the financial reporting up forced us to have a strict deadline, which helped. The deal went through for US$240m and, after a long process, Adobe took control in October 2010. I stayed on in the role of CFO for a year, to help with the transition.

Where are you working now? 

In 2015 I moved to Netcentric, which at the time was a Swiss private company. We maintain global websites for the likes of UBS, Miles & More and Daimler. The company was growing extremely fast. It started in 2012 and when I came on board, I was employee #299. In 2017 we accepted an offer from Cognizant in which I had been working on the transaction, alongside our CEO. Since then I’ve taken responsibility for both the finance and operations at the firm. We now have 550 people at Netcentric – it’s a very ambitious company. The company has a very different culture, particularly as it uses the holacracy organisational model.

What is it like to work in a holacracy?

The holacracy model is based on running a business in a non-hierarchical way. No one is working for anybody else, and the best ideas come forward. There’s no monopoly whereby only the senior people have good ideas. Projects are run in ‘circles’, and there are leaders of those circles. We never have to discuss or learn organisation charts, as the company reorganises itself on a daily basis. It’s an Agile method, which has allowed us to grow massively.

What is your biggest regret?

My biggest regret is not doing my due diligence properly when I joined a start-up some years ago. I didn’t ask the right questions about the business’ viability, which I regretted at the time. However, you learn from those experiences and mistakes.

Most of my regrets are around bad hiring decisions. I’ve made a few, and the common trait is that I recruited too quickly. One thing I’ve learned is to hire slow and fire fast – the chaos from a bad hire is not worth the time saved at the recruitment stage. 

Hiring managers should try to avoid a ‘shopping list’ approach where people look for candidates with an exact match of skills and experience. People generally want a change of role, and why would they want to move into a job that is exactly the same as their last one? Also, take the plunge and put your shortlisted candidates in front of your colleagues so they have the opportunities to point out any potential problems – it will pay off in the long run. 

You mentioned that you believe giving employees a better understanding of company financials is important.

How are you doing that, and why?

I’m a great believer in openness and often find that people can handle the truth better than you expect. It’s far better to tell people how things are, as well as what you are and aren’t able to share. For example, at Myriad, we were facing a difficult financial situation and I told the staff I wasn’t sure if we’d have jobs in three months’ time, but I could promise an amazing experience that would be great for their CV. They loved this approach, and everyone stayed.

At the moment I’m working on a project that involves next year’s budget. I have to be open and explain that I can’t share everything. As long as people trust you to have the right judgement, the role of a CFO has to be a buffer at times – you can’t share all the pain (you don’t want to unnecessarily panic people), but you can give insight.

How is the role of a CFO changing?

The role of a CFO is to be a true business partner to the CEO – long gone are the days of being locked in a room with board reports. You have to challenge the CEO and be their sounding board (privately, of course). The CFO can’t sit in a bubble, they have to collaborate with other departments, such as sales and marketing, to get a feel of what’s going on in the business. That requires you to be approachable. If people are scared of you, you’ll miss out on ideas.

Regulations are changing the landscape too. Financial stewardship and technological advances mean you need to be on top of the latest developments.

What are your top three predictions for how finance teams of the future will look?

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will take over an increasing number of tasks like sales invoicing
  2. Teams will need more analytical skills to better understand the business and will need to connect more effectively with the business managers to gain insights.
  3. The pace of change will increase and it will be our job to observe trends and adapt. We’ll need to think outside the box to keep up.

And finally, what advice would you give now to that 18-year-old Richard, heading to the university career fair?

Keep educating yourself, it’s never enough. The world is changing and adapting to it is key. As jobs disappear, new ones will come, so be ready…

If you want to learn from Richard’s experience in finance, take a look at this article on ‘how to grow and sell a business’, or check out our other insights. If you’re looking for your next career move within finance, or you have an opportunity at your company that you’d like to discuss, get in touch on + 44 (0) 020 3637 7808.



A successful career in tax

“The work I’m doing around sales and building the business is very different to anything I’ve done before.”

Drew Wardrope – Head of Tax Insurance at Howden

Public speaking isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you’re listing a tax professional’s required skills. It certainly wasn’t something Drew Wardrope gave much thought to whilst he was heading up M&A tax at Barclays. A lot has changed for him over the last 18 months – his public speaking responsibilities included. We spoke to Drew about the early days of his career, his impressive rise through Deloitte, RBS and Barclays and how a call from Rory MacSween at SRM Recruitment set him on a new and exciting path to insurance specialists Howden.

What attracted you to a career in tax?

I’d love to say I have this amazing story about how I always wanted a career in tax… but I didn’t. I basically fell into it. I was studying maths at Nottingham university and I got a job mid-way through my third year – I was going to be an actuary. That was great, I was set up, I could relax a bit. I deferred and took a year off to go travelling. I taught football in the States, toured Brazil in a campervan and then went to Asia. I was getting into a bit of debt, but I wasn’t worried as I knew I had a job to go back to in September and I’d be able to pay it off.

I’m sensing something’s about to go wrong…

This was 2003, way before smartphones, and I was checking my emails in an internet café in a railway station in Cambodia. The actuary company in London had emailed, asking me call them urgently. I found a payphone and was told that the company was laying off all its graduates. I remember sitting outside the internet café almost laughing to myself and thinking, ‘What the hell do I do now?’ I needed to find a new job pretty sharpish but when I got back to the UK in August, most decent firms had already hired for the year.

You secured a graduate role with Deloitte – how did you manage that so late in the day?

Deloitte had just gone through a big merger with Arthur Anderson, so they’d put their recruitment on hold for six months. I was living with my mum in Newcastle and I went down to London for a graduate fair expecting to speak to the Deloitte actuary guy. But I was told, ‘Sorry – all the actuary jobs were filled yesterday. But you can speak to the tax guy – he’s still got jobs available.’ So, I did and that’s how I fell into a career in tax.

You clearly settled into tax well because by year four, you were rated in the top five percent of the population at Deloitte. Then you left for a job at RBS. What made you go in-house rather than pursuing the partner track at Deloitte?

I saw moving in-house as a stepping stone to the partner track. Working for a big accountancy firm, you’re advising businesses all the time, telling them what to do and how to do it. I thought, how am I supposed to give this advice when I don’t really know what it’s like to implement it? In the real world, does this stuff actually work? Is it practical? Is it realistic? So my plan was to go in-house, get some commercial business experience and then effectively go back to Deloitte.

How was life in-house?

It was nerve wracking but exhilarating. When you work for an accountancy firm at a junior level, typically in client meetings you just listen in because you’ve got at least two people more senior than you doing the talking. I went from that sheltered environment to being told by my new boss in my first week, ‘You’re going to a meeting on funds. Do you know anything about funds? No? Well, you had better learn fast because you’re our funds expert now.’ I had a morning to read up on everything and then I went to this meeting with the front office and 10 or so other infrastructure groups and was asked, ‘So, what’s your opinion on tax?’ It was very steep learning curve, but I learned quickly.

You joined RBS in 2007, a year before it went into government ownership. How did that play out for you?

I look back now and think I lived through the eye of the storm. Senior management weren’t saying much – we got most of our information from Robert Peston on the BBC. We saw Fred ‘the Shred’ Goodwin in the treasury effectively pleading for money from Gordon Brown to keep the bank afloat. We watched other banks collapsing and people walking out of Lehman Brothers with their possessions in boxes. There were pay cuts and lots of extra work and day to day I’d go into the office not knowing if the bank would still be functioning. But we just got on with it. There was a real sense of camaraderie – we were all in the same boat and none of us had a clue about what was going to happen. You get rich, interesting experiences from something like that.

You stayed with RBS for two more years and moved to Barclays, which in 2012 found itself in its own media spotlight…

Yes, I somehow chose to work at two companies at the centre of some of the biggest corporate scandals in UK history! At Barclays it wasn’t our financial stability that was in question, it was our reputation. I think it changed the bank for good in that pre-financial crisis, banks were participating in tax schemes that were legal but morally questionable. Post financial crisis, people started thinking about the wider effects of aggressive tax planning – it’s legal, but is it the right thing to do?

After seven years at Barclays, what made you decide to move on?

My last three years at Barclays were amazing. I became head of M&A Tax at a time when Barclays was massively downsizing and selling about a third of the bank. I built a tax team to support that and we did loads of interesting transactions in a very short space of time. It was really fun, but it had a shelf life – the role was only so interesting so long as there was stuff to sell or buy. I could see that by the end of 2017, Barclays would have sold all it wanted to sell and my role would be coming to an end. So I started thinking about my next steps.

Was going back to Deloitte an option, as per the plan you’d had ten years earlier? And where do SRM Recruitment and Howden fit in?

I was talking to various firms about roles in M&A tax, including Deloitte. I was working on a deal in Johannesburg when Rory from SRM Recruitment popped up – he reached out to me on LinkedIn and told me he had a role that he thought was perfect for me. Ultimately he was right, because here I am at Howden! What interested me about the role was the opportunity to go out there and try to grow a business, which I’d never done before.

How fast did things move after that first email from Rory?

Unbelievably fast. It was in huge contrast to the bureaucratic, red tape environment I’d come from, where you can have six rounds of interviews and still no final answer. I had an interview with Howden’s MD on the Friday, met his colleague on the Monday morning and by Monday afternoon I had a job offer.

So you’re now Head of Tax Insurance at Howden – congratulations! Tell us about the workplace culture there.

It’s completely different to anywhere I’ve worked before. We’re majority owned by a bigger organisation but minority owned by employees, and there’s 40 of us globally in M&A. The team was created six years ago and it’s grown exponentially year on year. There’s a start-up feel to the place – it’s a really fun, exciting place to work. There are yoga sessions in the morning and everyone walks around in their sports gear. So it’s not your typical corporate world, but that’s not to mistake the fun for lack of professionalism. When we’ve got client meetings we’re all suited and booted and everybody works very hard, if not harder than in places I’ve worked in before.

Can you give us an overview of what you’re doing at Howden?

I sell tax insurance products. Let’s say a buyer puts £500 million on the table for a new business which has a £100 million tax risk. The next day that tax risk crystallises – the business is now worth £400 million and the buyer is out of pocket. I sell the tax insurance products to the buyer to protect them from that risk. Without insurance, the deal might not happen because the buyer and seller can’t agree how to share that risk. If you transfer that risk to the insurance market and both parties are happy to pay the cost of the insurance policy, which is a percentage of the total overall risk, the deal gets done.

What’s it like applying your technical tax skills in such a different environment?

As far as the technical tax skills go, the application isn’t that different from my previous roles. When you work in M&A you have to become a generalist – one day you might be looking at VAT risk in Singapore, the next it’s transfer tax in Italy. That part of my work hasn’t really changed.

So what is different around your current role – and what new skills have you developed as a result?

The work I’m doing around sales and building the business is very different to anything I’ve done before and I find it really interesting. The workload is intense: I’m working on deals, servicing existing clients and all the time trying to grow the business and make new contacts. There are lots plates spinning and you need energy and mental resilience to take all that on and not get too stressed by it. Work trips can be exhausting: we’ll do seven meetings in a day, from sitting around a table having coffee to presentations to 100 people.

And how have you embraced your new public speaking responsibilities?

Turning up at a conference and speaking for an hour to 100 delegates wasn’t something I’d done before. I do get a bit nervous beforehand, but generally I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my public speaking abilities!

What advice would you have for tax accountants in the early stages of their careers – or what would you tell your 22-year-old self starting out at Deloitte?

I’d say that it’s really important to make your own luck. There are so many things you can’t have a hand in – it’s just about being in the right place at the right time. But what you can do is try to make as many opportunities arise as you can. Do this by putting yourself out there and meeting people. The more you’re getting out there, the more opportunities will arise and when they do, you can grab them. The book Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell was eye-opening for me. He writes about Bill Gates and how he happened to have regular access to a computer in the 1960s, way before computers became mainstream. So many moments are about luck, and it’s about recognising those moments and seizing them.

Discover more stories in our ‘Lessons From Leaders’ series in our blog. If you’d like to discuss your next career change, we’d love to hear from you, so please get in touch on + 44 (0) 20 3637 7808. Or submit your CV here.

My Career Path to SRM

Andrew Pal career path to SRM
Andrew Pal career path to SRM
Andrew Pal

Andrew Pal, Senior Consultant – Tax, UK & EMEA at SRM Recruitment shares his story on his career path to SRM and what’s so special about working here.

From Toronto to London

After graduating university in Canada I got into the insurance sector as a number of my family members worked in this area. It was a great experience and had elements I really enjoyed, but I knew that I was looking for something different. A good friend of mine suggested recruitment, which ultimately led me to join one of the large recruitment firms in Toronto. 

Personal circumstances drew me to London so I began looking for another recruitment role. This is where I met Andrew, Stewart and Rory (co-founders of SRM Recruitment) as I interviewed with them at another of the large recruiters.

I worked closely with Rory for a number of years focusing on tax recruitment. Whilst the culture and environment of the firm I joined was closer to my style I knew that longer-term I was looking for more freedom and flexibility. 

Why did you join SRM?

After Andrew, Stewart and Rory established SRM Recruitment I thought this could be a step in the right direction for me long term. I liked the idea of building my part of the business from scratch and being trusted to just get on with it. 

Ultimately I wanted to be responsible only for myself, and steering my career path to SRM offered this in an entrepreneurial environment.

Greater freedom

Now, my focus is still on tax but I can pursue other specialist opportunities to make money. I’m also able to work globally, rather than just pass on roles to counterparts in other locations.

Transparency of earnings

The general transparency around earnings was a key draw for me as well as being closer to the planning of the business. I can see the impact I’m able to have on the business. 

What’s kept you?

It’s simple – the leaders of the business followed through. It’s been exactly as advertised! They are investing in the business, it’s growing and we’re hiring. There’s still a family feel but the leaders are ambitious and want to expand.

What sort of people will do well here?

Someone who has a maturity about them (and that’s not an age thing) as well as confidence in their abilities. You need a strong work ethic, with the ability to work out in the open. In a larger firm, the spotlight might not be on you, people can hide to a certain extent, so to do well here you need to be someone who wants to take control of their future. 

Why should other recruiters join SRM?

It’s a cliché but the world is your oyster here – there’s no restriction to your growth and you know exactly what you will get. I trust and like these guys – they deliver on what they say. This is a very good place to be. 

Sum up how SRM is different

It’s very simple, the leadership team focus on recruitment fundamentals, treating each search as an individual project whilst getting rid of the politics and red tape. You’re empowered to get on with it.

What’s next for you?
Continuing to grow my name and the SRM name in the market, I see those as one and the same thing. Looking for opportunities that will bring in a number of roles and help grow the wider business. Who knows, maybe North America is next!  

Sum up the top three things about working for SRM

1. Transparency in payment: If I bill X I will get Y – that was always a grey area at other recruiters.

2. Empowerment, trusted to work flexibly: I’m at a place in life where I will get the work done.

3. The culture: Just being in the office is enjoyable, we like and respect each other. It doesn’t feel corporate, we are on the same wavelength.

To learn more about how you can grow with us here at SRM Recruitment, take a look at our ‘Work For Us‘ section and get inspired.

The path to partner – essential advice

Chand Chudasama the path to partner
Chand Chudasama the path to partner

When your heart is set on a career path and it doesn’t work out, it can be devastating. Turning that setback into an opportunity and making a success of it takes skill. As part of our ‘Lessons from Leaders’ series, we join Chand Chudasama, Strategy & Corporate Finance Partner at Price Bailey to hear his top ten lessons learned on the path to Partner.

10 Tips For A Successful Career In Corporate Finance and Strategy

1.    Pursue a career you’re passionate about

When I was a kid, I hated jigsaws as I found them too easy to solve once you realised all you had to do was start from the corners and edges. I’ve always preferred puzzles without set ways of solving them.

As I grew up, I continued to look for those challenging puzzles and decided to join the army. I was in the Army Reserves and Cadets and flew through the ranks but when I was 17, I was so surprised when I failed the medical for the regular Army at selection; it really knocked me back.

I knew that I had to find another type of job where I could solve complex, unstructured problems. I learned that corporate finance and strategy advisory offers that kind of work – one side is very technical and numbers-driven, the other side is highly strategic.

Putting the two together is a great challenge. Even now, I describe my job as like doing three jigsaw puzzles at the same time, where all the pieces are all mixed up, there’s an unknown number of missing pieces and the pictures are changing at different speeds and against the clock! It wouldn’t be for everyone, but I find it really engaging. 

10 Tips For A Successful Career In Corporate Finance and Strategy

2.  Build up your technical knowledge quickly

Get the right qualifications… and then remember that it’s not enough on its own!

At the beginning of my career, my goal was to bank at least 300 hours of self-initiated study a year to build up my technical knowledge. In my 20s I probably spent more like 400 hours a year studying. Strategy & corporate finance isn’t like other roles where you might need to have a deep knowledge of a narrow area that you draw upon repetitively every day.

You’ll be required to have a good understanding of a vast range of topics. You might only need a piece of information once a year, but you need to be able to recall it at a moment’s notice. That ability only comes from hard study and thorough understanding of its practical application to solve a company’s problems or create value, and even then, study alone won’t be enough to do your job well. It’s quite tough to match theory with practice.

3. Be around good people

A big turning point in my career was undertaking my MBA at Newcastle University. I met a lot of great people there. The people who taught me and who learned alongside me expanded my understanding, as well as giving me the tools I needed to succeed in my job.

What I realised between the MBA and my first job afterwards, is that it’s all about the people. If the work is interesting, it’s the people you work alongside who make or break a job. Every career decision I’ve made since then has been because of the people I’ve worked with – both colleagues and clients. I’m lucky that I work for a great firm with incredible people; I wouldn’t want to work in an environment that didn’t prioritise that.

4. Ask for help

Promotions have challenged me to step up in terms of people management. Being made manager was the toughest change – it took me six months to understand what a manager was meant to be, and I’m still figuring out the shift I’ve made to Partner.

I’ve had to be honest with my team and ask for leeway as I learn the ropes. I’ve never been shy about asking questions, and I’ve been fortunate to work with peers who are never reluctant to give advice and support. It’s important to know your weaknesses as well as your strengths and not to pretend to have all the answers when you don’t. Nothing is more uninspiring to a team than a young leader without humility.

5. Treat your job like your own business

The hard yards in learning how to run a professional services business are done at grades where you are in the thick of the action – it is tough but you learn an awful lot and building strong relationships along the way, both in the firm and with externals is key. However, one of the biggest hurdles to progression is the shift in mindset, to go from working hard but still in the mindset of having a job, to having more of an ownership mentality and treating the business like it is your own.

I grew up in a small family business environment so, to an extent I never knew anything different, but I certainly now see those values and that attitude as key to progression.

6. Make friends and influence people

You’ve got to be able to deliver, and when you’re starting out, you can’t afford to make enemies. If you aspire to make Partner, try your hardest to deliver without being a git! You can do a good job whilst making friends.

A client recently said to me that when they reflect on the most successful people in their circle, every one of them had relationship building skills as one of their top assets.

As an advisor, you can’t be trusted to guide and influence decision making unless you are trusted – technical competence is part of that but lots of people are technically strong, what really matters is being trusted to be the voice guiding good decision making, especially when times are tough.

7. Work/life balance is a team effort

I count the times I manage to get home before 7pm. If I can manage it twice a week, I’m happy. I remember the impact hiring a new manager in my team had – there was probably a 4 month period where I only made it home three times before 7pm and then I was able to stop working at the weekend; it was incredible. As the firm grows that balance will always ebb and flow and, if I’m being honest, a lot of the time I’m working late because I just absolutely love what I do and time gets away from me!

Work/life balance means different things to different people. For me, time with my family and friends, adventurous holidays and time to go to the gym or for a swim give me that balance. However, I think the balance can only be struck if you have a great team around you who care about one another, who understand what’s going on and who share the workload. If the capacity and team ethos aren’t there, you can’t have work/life balance. Culturally, I think organisations should be encouraging all their staff to find ways to get the balance right, as Price Bailey has done.

8. Build strong relationships

The sign of a strong relationship is being able to have a tough conversation. If you want to work at a senior level, you need to build positive relationships with your colleagues to achieve this. Get to know people so you can work well together. It isn’t enough to be clever or make sales targets – it’s a given that you can do your job. Two characters have to get on, so focus on relationships that can collectively grow a company. If you can be honest about your individual and collective strengths and weaknesses, and find a constructive way forward, everyone will win – the clients, the staff, the firm and the Partners.

9. Focus on strategy, rather than transactions

Too often, people are focused on the next corporate transaction, and it’s usually because they’re working in a fee-driven culture or because of a lack of experience in higher-level advisory work. We have found that it’s far better to help a client create their strategy and to help them deliver it, joining them on their journey and helping to guide them.

Partnering strategically enables you to be braver and to point out when an idea doesn’t fit with the plan. It helps build credibility, particularly when you can walk away from a project if it’s the wrong thing to do, despite the value of the transaction. Focusing on strategy has benefitted our clients, it’s allowed the team to progress quickly, and it has underpinned my own career development.

10. Create client value to build your personal brand

First things first, if you live in the UK, don’t call it your personal brand! It’s not how we do things here – it exists, but it is not very British to talk about it! For me, it’s about knowing your unique role as a partner or senior individual and understanding what makes you different.

The best way to rise through the ranks is to create value for your clients. Find solutions for their problems. It’s beyond cross-selling. It’s about meeting client’s personal and corporate objectives that are beyond the scope of the work you’ve been asked to do; to know what’s really driving them and to deliver on that.

Corporate Finance is an incredibly competitive field, so to stand out you need to think beyond the question the client is asking. What they’re asking for may not be what they really need, or it may just be the tip of the iceberg. If you just give what they have asked for then you can’t be an adviser as you’re inherently stuck in the metaphor of the repetitive jigsaw puzzle!

This only works if the approach is supported by your firm, you have the remit to think critically and if you have a strong enough relationship with your client. It comes back to what I said about building relationships, trust, and a strategic partnership.

Keeping abreast of industry developments (see this article on the Future of Corporate Finance), market opportunities, regulatory change and the press, and bringing these insights to your conversations is also really valuable.

In summary, to be successful in Corporate Finance and Strategy, it takes hard study, strong relationships, integrity, teamwork and a strategic vision. What will make you stand out and get ahead is to do all of this in your own authentic way.

Chand Chudasama, Strategy & Corporate Finance Partner at Price Bailey

If you feel ready to discuss your next career opportunity in Corporate Finance, or you’re looking for talent to fill a role in your organisation, please get in touch on + 44 (0) 020 3637 7808.

Read more in our lessons from leaders series in our Insights blog.