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Many of the corporate accountant professionals we work with regularly speak about wanting to gain commerciality and exposure in their roles and often seek our advice about how best to go about this. The reality is that different roles can bring you a different experience in these areas, as can the type of firm you work for. It can also mean different things to different people, either in terms of their expectations or career ambitions, but also what they enjoy doing in their role.
In this blog, we take a quick look at some examples of both commerciality and exposure for corporate accountants and what that might look like across different role types.
This is defined differently from industry to industry and role to role, so there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Within real estate, commercial roles can even be broken down into the type of firm you work for, whether a developer, investor/ fund manager or property company. For example, within a fund, this could mean stakeholder management, investor reporting and analysing new deals. Developers tend to focus more on the project at hand, so looking at the budgets, forecasts and how the costs are paired to the timing of the overall development would be considered commerciality skills.
Each role will always offer variety, but the nature of a finance role is that you will always have reporting duties. Management accountant, finance business partnering and FP&A are titles associated with ‘commercial roles’, however, as time has moved on there is much more to a finance team than traditionally thought. They are no longer simply a back-office function. Finance teams are now at the helm of key decision-making, adding huge amounts of value to the costings and overall timescales.
Fund accounting, for example, is a role that is often immediately discounted and viewed as reporting-heavy. However, it is these roles that will give you front line exposure to the C-suite individuals, be a part of new deals and even presenting to investors. Financial/management accounting roles within developers have the same stigma of being too transactional and number heavy. However, without the granular information on the numbers, how will the company know where they are against their budgets & timelines? In a situation such as this, being a strong communicator is a great way to become more commercial in a role – liaising with key internal stakeholders and presenting information in a way that is clear and tells a story that relates to their business area.
More generally, once you’re in a business with an entrepreneurial environment, it is much easier to transition into the 60/40 split of ‘commerciality’ as the employees will gain trust from their senior stakeholders, offering further development.
Exposure can also be defined very differently to different people - some individuals want ‘exposure’ to senior management, some want direct exposure to the investments/developments and others want exposure to hands-on accounts preparation. Sadly a job title can often be overlooked too quickly and assumptions made, before giving the business, duties and office environment a chance.
Ultimately, there is often more to a role than the job title alone suggests, and candidates should remain open to discussions around individual situations, but also be honest about what they’re looking to gain from their next role. It is also important for the recruitment consultant you choose to work with for your job search to understand exactly what commerciality and exposure means to each candidate – that way they can secure the right role for the individual, which is more likely to lead to long-term career satisfaction.
I specialise in working with corporate accountants. If you’re looking for your next career move, or would like to hear how other businesses are selling their roles to potential new hires, get in touch today for a confidential chat. I’d love to help.
Article written by William Dodds, Managing Consultant, Accounting & Finance.