How to secure the hottest candidates

When it comes to recruitment, selling is a two-way street. Not only do potential employees need to market themselves. But to ensure you’re attracting the highest-calibre candidates, your business needs to make an attractive proposition – and offer it to the right prospects. Director of FD Recruit, Phil Scott, shares his views with Director of Finance.


Finance directors are not a one-size-fits-all solution – selecting the right candidate means finding the right mix of skills, experience, personality and ambition that not only looks great on paper, but will work well within your organisation and be able to help drive you towards your future goals.

Begin your recruitment process by looking beyond what tasks you hope your new FD will undertake, and thinking about what presence you’re looking to bring into the team.

A strong CV is a good start, but a suitable personality is every bit as important. The ideal finance director will match your values and be driven by the same objectives. He or she will challenge you and communicate important information to others within and outside of the business. Could you debate with them, and would you be happy with them acting as your representative?

We have also found that many businesses limit their search to FDs from within their own industry. Sure, these candidates promise specific experience, but don’t rule out candidates from other fields. They will see things with fresh eyes and bring new ideas to the table, which could well be the spark you require.


The quickest way to deter the best FDs from wanting to work with you is to cobble together an underwhelming offer. Great finance directors are worth their salary, not only saving your organisation money, but working with a commercial mindset to create profit improvement and business growth opportunities. Any money you think you’re saving by offering a below-par salary will be lost by missing out on high performers.

We keep on top of FD remuneration expectations by conducting an annual salary survey, seeking input from thousands of finance directors across a range of industries, located all around the UK. Our most recent study found that the average base salary was between £90,000 and £160,000, climbing to between £110,000 and £180,000 once additional benefits had been included.

Performance-related bonuses are popular among organisations that are looking to avoid promising too much, tying their rewards to individual or organisational success. In fact, in our follow-up survey looking specifically at benefits, FDs told us that performance-related bonuses are the most sought-after ‘perk’. The average bonus paid out was the equivalent of between 20% and 25% of basic salary and represented between 15% and 20% of total earnings.

Vehicle allowance, pension contributions and medical cover are also highly coveted by the FD community.


Of course, the best finance directors are driven by more than merely monetary rewards and want to build a career that suits their personal and professional goals. Fail to recognise this, and you run the risk of losing the best talent to another organisation that better suits their needs.

For example, the modern FD is often drawn to flexible and remote working options. This allows an individual to put in the hours when projects are at a critical stage, but also to shape their working life around their personal and family commitments.

Office technology has quickly evolved to a place where this should be easily viable for most organisations, yet less than a third of employers offer it.

It’s also important to be able to fulfil a recruit’s ambitions. Many FDs desire to have influence in other areas of the business, to work with the CEO to put their ‘stamp’ on an organisation. Others are drawn to roles in which they will be trained, mentored and given the opportunity to further climb the ladder.

When taking on an FD, it’s crucial to appreciate their long-term goals and to invest in their development. Hiring a finance director with ambitions beyond what your company can fulfil will see you heading back to the recruitment process sooner than you’d hoped.


Not all FD appointments need to be long-term. As well as placing full-time FDs in permanent roles, we also specialise in finding finance directors to suit part-time roles, or to work on short-term projects.

If you’re in urgent need of a finance director, an interim solution can provide an excellent bridge until you’ve had time to explore longer term options. Other interim FDs we work with have specific skills sets that work best on particular projects, including breaking international markets, preparing for a sale or turning dire finances around. Many interim FDs come with the ability to hit the ground running, slotting into an existing project and getting a job done.

Alternatively, you may need an FD with a specific set of experience or skills but find that such talent is simply out of your price range. Rather than settling for a less competent finance director but more affordable, it’s possible to hire on a part-time basis. Such an FD can offer all the skills you need for a limited number of days per week or month – meaning you get the highest calibre candidate without the commitment of a full-time salary. These finance directors, by nature, have a lot of connections across a range of industries and can be particularly fruitful resources.


A great finance director can drive your organisation to new levels of success, though the key ingredients that make a candidate a great fit for your particular situation depend on a number of factors. What remains constant is the importance of a thorough recruitment process – not only in selecting the right individual for the job, but by understanding what makes FDs tick and encouraging the best out there to dream of working for you.

For help and guidance selecting your next FD, visit our website.

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