The Key Attributes of a Finance Manager Supporting a Financial Controller or Finance Director within an SME

The Role of a Finance Manager

In small and medium enterprises (SMEs), the Finance Manager plays a critical role in supporting the Financial Controller or Finance Director. This position serves as a key link between the company’s strategic and operational aspects and its financial health. While the responsibilities may vary based on the specific needs of the SME, certain key attributes are universally essential for success in this role. Here, we explore these attributes to understand what makes an effective Finance Manager in an SME setting.

Solid Financial Acumen

At the core, a Finance Manager must possess strong financial acumen. This includes a deep understanding of financial principles, accounting standards, and annual management practices. They should be proficient in financial reporting, budgeting, and forecasting, as these are essential tools for daily operations and long-term planning. Their financial knowledge serves as the foundation for developing strategies that support the company’s financial objectives.

Analytical and Problem-Solving Skills

A successful Finance Manager must have sharp analytical skills and a problem-solving mindset. They should be capable of analysing financial data, identifying trends, and detecting issues before they become significant problems. Their ability to break down complex financial information into practical insights is crucial for decision-making and strategic planning.

Effective Communication and Interpersonal Skills

Finance Managers often act as intermediaries between the finance department and other parts of the business. Therefore, excellent communication and interpersonal skills are essential. They must articulate financial concepts and results clearly and concisely to stakeholders at all levels, many of whom may not have a finance background. Furthermore, their ability to build and maintain strong relationships fosters collaboration and ensures that financial strategies are aligned with overall business goals.

Adaptability and Resilience

SMEs operate in dynamic environments where market conditions and business needs can change rapidly. A Finance Manager must be adaptable, resilient, and capable of managing multiple priorities without losing focus. They should be comfortable with change and able to adjust plans and strategies effectively to meet evolving business requirements.

Attention to Detail and Organisational Skills

Finance Managers possess excellent attention to detail and strong organisational skills. They oversee various financial operations, ensuring that all financial documents are accurate and compliance standards are met. Their meticulous nature prevents errors and ensures that financial processes run smoothly and efficiently.

Technological Proficiency

In the digital age, technological proficiency is a must for Finance Managers. They should be comfortable using advanced financial software, data analysis tools, and other tech solutions that improve efficiency and provide deeper financial insights. Their ability to leverage technology can significantly enhance the finance department’s effectiveness and contribute to the SME’s overall success.

Ethical Judgement and Professionalism

Finance Managers must exhibit high ethical standards and professionalism. They handle sensitive financial information and must ensure confidentiality, transparency, and comply with regulatory requirements. Their ethical judgement builds trust and upholds the company’s reputation, both internally and externally.

Leadership and Team Management

Although they may not occupy the top financial position, Finance Managers often lead teams and projects. Effective leadership and team management skills are therefore critical. They should inspire and guide their teams, fostering a culture of accountability, continuous improvement, and high performance.


The role of a Finance Manager in an SME is both challenging and rewarding. By embodying these key attributes, Finance Managers can effectively support the Financial Controller or Finance Director, contributing significantly to the financial stability and growth of the company. Their skills and efforts enable SMEs to navigate the complexities of today’s business landscape, driving forward with clarity and confidence.