Revealed: what top dogs do all day

Charles Christian offers an insight into the life of your average finance director

Like policemen, it seems finance directors are getting younger. This is just one finding of a recent survey conducted by Marketing Research Database (MRD) into the life and times of board- and non-board-level finance directors working for major UK corporates.

Of the sample, MRD found the average age of finance directors is 42 - an apparent trend for youthfulness reflected in the fact that the survey found no respondents over 60 years of age. Furthermore, although the average age on appointment is currently 36 years, it is clear this figure is falling, and financial managers are becoming directors sooner. Thus, while only 16 per cent of those now aged 40-50 were appointed at the age of 30 or under, among the younger, under-40 age group approximately one-third were already directors by 30 - and indeed nearly 20 per cent had made it at 28 or under.

Having said that, it would be wrong to think the world of financial management is in danger of being overrun by young turks, as the survey also found that nearly 40 per cent of the sample had spent more than 20 years - in effect, all their working lives - in financial management.

And not only do financial managers exhibit little tendency to change career, but they also seem reluctant to change company - 25 per cent had worked for only one company and nearly half for only two.

There again, perhaps this innate conservatism makes sense, since more than 57 per cent of finance directors had been promoted to their current position from within the company.

There are few surprises in terms of qualifications. Chartered accountancy is by far the main qualification, held by 56 per cent of respondents, which is nearly twice as many as the next most common qualification, management accountancy. Once again, however, an age differential is beginning to show, with a significantly higher incidence of chartered accountants among the over-forties, while the management accounting qualification is much more popular among the younger age group. Younger finance directors are also more likely to have an additional qualification, typically an MBA.

In terms of assistance with their work, the survey threw up some interesting findings. For example, many financial directors feel that they are not seeing benefits from their investments in information technology, with some 40 per cent of respondents saying IT has made no difference to the clarity of presentation of financial data, no impact on controlling costs and no effect on making financial data more relevant to decision- making.

When it comes to using outside professional advisers, both accountants and lawyers score relatively high in the satisfaction stakes, whereas stockbrokers are viewed in a more ambivalent light, with respondents almost equally split between those awarding negative and positive ratings. However, management consultants have the biggest image problem, with nearly 70 per cent of finance directors who have used them either expressing dissatisfaction or else having nothing positive to say about their services.

As to what finance directors find to fill their days ... approximately a quarter of their time is spent on strategic planning, some 17 per cent on crisis management and the remainder - just over half - is devoted to day-to-day management. Although two brave - some might say foolhardy - respondents admitted that survival was the only game for them.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at

general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before