What is commercial Finance
A commercial accountant's primary duties are focused on the accounting and management of financial information and irregularities. The majority of the work relates to forecasting, commercial reporting, data analysis, financial analysis, and elements of business partnering. Several roles fall under the ‘umbrella’ of commercial accounting, these include but are not limited to: Finance Analyst, Finance Business Partner and to a lesser extent FP&A roles.
Why choose commercial Finance?
People have a stereotypical view of what an accountant is (just search ‘’accountant’’ on Google Images); glasses, a suit, a big stack of books, and a bit of a boring personality. This idea has existed in the cultural zeitgeist as far back as I can remember, even in Shaun of the Dead, Simon Pegg (Shaun) insults Dylan Moran (David) by saying ‘’he looks like an accountant’’.
I spend most of my time at work talking to commercial accountants, and I can say without any hesitation that this outdated stereotype couldn’t be further from the truth. Given that business partnering is often a vital part of any senior commercial accountant's duties they need to be able to talk to anyone, and everyone about the current financial situation of the company, and naturally, you can’t do this by boring the non-finance stakeholders to death! Commercial accountants have to be outgoing and sociable in order to be able to explain complex financial data to those who have no background in finance. This comes with the added bonus of giving a commercial accountant a practically unparalleled understanding of the organisation they work for, as they will be liaising with every department from manufacturing to HR.
Furthermore, businesses are often looking for commercial accountants to add value to the business and drive efficiencies within the organisation. This gives commercial accountants the freedom to make their own decisions and drive change within the organisation, allowing them to really put their mark on the process and the future success of their organisation. When I talk with candidates my first question is always ‘’what does an ideal role look like to you?’’, and the vast majority of the responses are the same ‘’I want to be able to add value to the business’’. This is different to your standard technical accountant who will be more focused on the ‘’going concern’’ of the business. In a massively oversimplified way, this means they are confirming what the business believes to be true - essentially showing that the company is financially stable enough to meet its obligations and continue its business for the foreseeable future (usually a year).
Commercial style roles are a lot more forward-thinking than pure technical roles, as data modelling and forecasting are often crucial parts of the job. I think this in part explains why the demand for commercial accounting roles has exploded over the last few years, as there have been lots of large exogenous shocks to the economy - BREXIT, COVID, and the invasion of Ukraine to name but 3; resulting in a need for ‘worst-case scenario’ modelling in order to give businesses assurance that finances will remain stable for the next 5 years.
Why do I enjoy recruiting for Commercial Accounting
Essentially, I enjoy recruiting for commercial roles for the reasons outlined above. You can have interesting conversations about the work they are undertaking, and given the often ‘’personalised’’ nature of commercial accounting, no 2 conversations are the same as everyone takes different approaches to solve issues pertaining to their company or market. Similarly, given the social nature of commercial accountants they are very easy to talk to, which was certainly a blessing when I first moved into recruitment and was nervous about calling candidates and wasn't sure what I was going to say!