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Updated by Hays UAE, April 2017 

The role of the Finance Leader has broadened significantly over the past decade and is likely to continue to expand in the future, according to a new report by Hays, the DNA of a Finance Leader, released today in association with the ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants).

After analysing the responses of more than 100 Finance Leaders operating across the Middle East, the report found that the vast majority were actively involved in a number of business areas with over a third (35%) stating that the operations function is the most important business discipline to partner with. To support this, when asked what tips they would give to the next generation of finance professionals, over half (52%) would advise them to ‘get involved with operations, not just the numbers’. Looking ahead five years, 57% believe that Finance Leaders will be expected to take on more of an advisory role, highlighting how the profession is likely to evolve even further.

“Being a senior finance professional goes far beyond traditional perceptions of concentrating solely on financial statements and reporting,” says Jon Ashcroft, Practice Head of Hays Executive Search Division, Dubai.

“The increasingly competitive global economy demands that the role serves as an effective business partner, engaging both internal teams and external stakeholders to decide overall strategy and maximise on business opportunities. And it doesn’t stop there. Local market pressures, such as the constant influx of new business into the region, as well as speculation around upcoming fiscal reforms, are further considerations that add to the complexities of succeeding at the top of the profession.” says Jon.

The report found that the majority of Finance Leader’s in the region have over 20 years Post-Qualified Experience (26%) but personal development and international experience were also common attributes with 70% of finance leaders holding more than one finance-related qualification and 91% having gained experience outside of their home countries. Sixty-one per cent also considered ‘People management’ the most important skill for a good finance leader to possess.

“Reaching the top of the finance profession is no easy task. The strategic nature of the role demands highly-skilled and multi-functioning individuals with a proven track record for delivering organisational objectives and leading teams. Consequently, individuals capable of fulfilling the role must have mastered a variety of both technical and soft skills. In line with this, we have noticed the most in-demand candidates to be excellent communicators, who are able to interact with the business and who possess strong influential skills, alongside their financial qualifications,” says Jon.

Almost half (41%) of those who have already reached a senior finance position would like to take on the role of CEO or start their own business as their ultimate career goals.

“Our report shows that Finance Leaders in the region are highly ambitious individuals with the skills, experience and qualifications to enable them, should they wish, to go on and lead their own businesses. However, whether individuals seek to reach this goal or not, what is clear is that for those successful in the profession, the opportunities open to them in the world of work are vast,” adds Jon.

For those aspiring to be the next generation of Finance Leader’s, the research identified the following top three tips: ‘get involved with the operations rather than just the numbers’ ‘develop your people skills’ and ‘be commercially aware’.

The DNA of a Finance Leader report

This unique report uncovers the qualities that make a great finance leader, specifically across the Middle East. Whilst it goes without saying that career paths can vary greatly and there is no one definitive route to the top, it also seems logical that those who do become a Finance Leader, in whatever industry or size of organisation, will share something in common – a certain “DNA”.

To access the report, visit:

Notes on methodology

Over 100 senior finance professionals, operating within both public and private sector organisations throughout the GCC, were surveyed online over H2 of 2016. They were asked about their educational background, qualifications, international experience, responsibilities, challenges and personal aspirations.