A finance director provides financial advice and support for companies and organizations in the public sector. A finance director might work for a multinational corporation, a charity, a hospital or a small business. The role involves the responsibility for planning budgets, making sure that all financial actions are in line with statutory requirements and producing finance reports. After an initial accounting qualification, finance directors need further qualifications which depend on their area of work.
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You don’t need a degree to become a finance director, but competition in the job market is fierce and a degree in a relevant field will put candidates at an advantage. Relevant degree subjects include economics, maths, business and accounting. Some universities offer degrees in finance and accounting. Without a degree, you are more likely to be successful if you have relevant work experience. You should at least have an A Level standard qualification from one of the UK’s accounting institutions, such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.
To become a finance director you really need to become a qualified accountant first. This involves taking a series of exams. Many trainee accountants take courses run or funded by their employer as part of a finance or accounting training programme. Much of the training is done on-the-job with additional part-time study. There are four main accounting institutes for England and Wales and one for Scotland (see Resources). These institutes organize training, exams and accreditation for accountants. One accounting institute, The Association of Chartered Accountants, works with Oxford Brookes University to offer a degree in accounting.
Once qualified as an accountant, there are additional qualifications for people who wish to work as a finance director in specific fields. The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy specializes in the public sector and has qualifications for those working in charities, academies or whose work focuses on producing financial reports. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales offers a corporate finance qualification as well as specialised qualifications in forensic and insolvency accounting. For all of these qualifications it is necessary to have experience or be working in a relevant field.
some experience of work in a relevant field is strongly recommended for academic post-graduate qualifications in finance. Many academic institutions, such as Imperial College London offer a Masters in finance. You must have a Bachelors degree in a related subject such as maths or business to qualify for a masters course. Courses can be completed in one year full time or two years part time.
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- The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales: Qualifications and Programmes
- The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants: Employers
- The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy: Qualifications
- The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants: BSc Degree
- Imperial College Business School: MSc Finance
- The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland