What Does a Financial Manager Do? (Skills and Duties)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated January 14, 2023

Published May 7, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

The purpose of financial management is to help organizations plan and attain their financial goals. A financial manager provides guidance in financial planning and directs investment activities for an organization. Learning more about becoming a financial manager can help you determine if the role suits your goals. In this article, we discuss what a financial manager does, list the types of financial managers, review the skills needed for the role, and discover the steps you can take to become a financial manager.

What does a financial manager do?

If you're considering a career in finance, you may wonder, "What does a financial manager do?" Financial managers are responsible for the financial health of a company. They provide insights on rising costs of raw materials, track liquidity and cash flow, help ensure compliance with regulations, and analyze financial projections. They also run market or liquidity risk assessments by reporting stock performance or estimating future payment obligations.

Financial managers can project how much money a company might require to sustain a positive cash flow and allocate funds to expand inventory. They also analyze operating expenses and capital expenses so the company can manage their assets and lower costs. Financial managers help companies create flexible budgets to pursue financial opportunities and reduce risk, or static budgets to help maintain a steady revenue. They also work with other managers and departments to strategize short-term and long-term goals, make decisions and execute plans, and ensure budgets align with strategy. Here are some of the common duties of a financial manager:

  • Prepare financial reports

  • Seek and recommend ways to reduce costs

  • Supervise employees and departments responsible for budgeting

  • Analyze market trends that might increase cost of goods sold

  • Allocate funds for new investment and expansion opportunities

  • Help management make financial decisions

  • Maintain positive cash flow

  • Estimate funds required to meet financial obligations

  • Decide the mix of debt and equity

  • Determine fixed and flexible budgets

  • Ensure compliance with federal and provincial laws

  • Handle investors and board of directors

  • Set procedures for the finance team to process payments, invoices, security, and accuracy of books

  • Revise credit policies to help ensure customers make payments on time

  • Determine the capital structure for operational payments and growth opportunities

  • Ensure availability of funds to pay for daily operations, such as paying employees and purchasing raw materials

Types of financial managers

Different companies hire different types of financial managers to meet their goals. Typically, financial managers have knowledge of the tax laws and regulations specific to the organization or industry. For example, financial managers working with health care companies often understand the costs of equipment and other business matters related to health care. Here are the different types of financial managers:

Controllers

The primary function of a financial controller is to prepare financial reports and summarize an organization's financial position. These reports may consider income statements, balance sheets, and projections of future earnings. Controllers also create documents required by the government or regulatory bodies and help ensure the company complies with industry specifications. They also sometimes oversee a company's accounting, auditing, and budgeting.

Treasurers

A treasurer's job is to manage all financial affairs and direct an organization's budget to help them meet financial goals and obligations. Treasurers are sometimes responsible for investing funds or issuing stocks or bonds to support a company's growth. In addition, a treasurer typically clarifies financial implications, confirms legal requirements of various business operations, and retrieves important documentation.

Credit managers

A credit manager, also known as a collections manager, protects a company's assets and oversees the credit granting process. They usually assess customer creditworthiness and conduct reviews of existing customers to identify potential credit policy inconsistencies. Credit managers can also create credit rating standards and negotiate loan terms with new customers.

Cash managers

Cash managers control the flow of money in and out of a company while monitoring client profitability. A cash manager can help companies meet their financial obligations, comply with policies and procedures, and analyze reports for financial gains. In addition, they typically advise other managers and departments on potential investments based on the availability of funds.

Risk managers

A risk manager calculates an organization's market, credit, liquidity, and operational risks. Risk managers can help companies determine recovery and business continuity plans for emergency situations, minimize exposure to financial uncertainty, and monitor a company's spending. In addition, they can help companies select the most applicable methods of avoiding financial risk and create parameters to allocate funds.

Read more: A Guide to Risk Management Process (With Practical Examples)

Insurance managers

An insurance manager can help companies prepare insurance documents for disability payments or potential lawsuits. Insurance managers have knowledge of federal, provincial, and municipal insurance laws and policies. In addition, they often help an organization create and implement a plan to help ensure coverage and security of capital.

Related: How to Become an Insurance Loss Adjuster (With FAQs)

Skills of a financial manager

Here are a few essential skills financial managers typically possess:

Analytical skills

Analytical skills are important for financial managers to examine data and help companies make financial decisions based on market trends, accounting, revenue projections, and financial risk assessment. Analytical skills and numerical ability can also help managers prepare financial statements and summaries to examine a company's financial health. It's important for managers to use their analytical skills to establish profitability standards for investment activities and stock performance.

Communication skills

Financial managers use strong communication skills to make decisions with company leaders regarding complex financial transactions. They also make recommendations to senior managers for changes to operating systems and budgets, and sometimes negotiate with other managers in the development and implementation of new policies. Financial managers often use their communication skills to collaborate with the company, its shareholders, and other financial analysts.

Read more: The Importance of Nonverbal Communication In the Workplace

Cognitive skills

Financial managers typically prepare and analyze financial reports and apply precision to accounting calculations. As they explain costs and market trends to help companies make financial decisions, expertise in checking errors and inaccuracies can help improve the outcome of these decisions. For insurance and risk managers, it's important to be precise with their understanding of laws and regulations within the industry, country, and province.

Numerical skills

Employers seek financial managers with strong numerical or mathematical abilities to understand international finance and complex financial documents. Financial managers, especially those handling a company's accounting, are often experts in computing whole numbers, fractions, decimals, percentages, ratios, order of operations, exponents, and algebra. Strong mathematical skills can be an asset for companies seeking managers to evaluate financial reporting systems, accounting procedures, and investment activities.

Organizational skills

Strong organizational skills help managers handle a wide range of financial documents, such as income and cash flow statements. Financial managers can use their organizational skills to coordinate, plan, and direct the operations of accounting and other financial departments. Organizational aptitude also applies to monitoring operating systems, budgets, and financial control systems.

How to become a financial manager

Here's a list of steps you can take if you are interested in becoming a financial manager:

1. Complete necessary education

Most companies require a bachelor's degree in business administration, economics, commerce, or a related field to work in financial management. Some companies also require a master's degree in business administration with a concentration in finance, or another master's level management program. Financial controllers and managers can sometimes apply to accounting and auditing positions that require a recognized accounting designation, such as a chartered professional accountant.

2. Earn certifications and licenses

Some financial management designations, such as financial planners, require a license as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) from Financial Planning Canada. Some candidates may also hold other certifications or designations, such as Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Registered Financial Planner (RFP), Certified General Accountant (CGA), or Certified Management Accountant (CMA). Candidates can also earn their certification for financial planning through an approved Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) core curriculum program.

3. Gain experience in the field

Some financial managers have experience in a related business occupation, such as a loan officer, accountant, security sales agent, or financial analyst. Some designations, such as financial planners, also require professionals to complete three years of qualifying experience as financial planners. Qualifying experience typically involves working directly with clients over an eight-year period.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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