Almost every firm, government department, and organization has one or more financial managers who oversee the preparation of financial reports, direct investment activities, and implement cash management strategies.
Financial managers are usually appointed as heads of the financial divisions of companies. The financial division is responsible for recording, analysing and interpreting financial data. Financial reports are then made available to the relevant people, for example the managing director, the bank manager and the shareholders of the company. The financial division also compiles the annual and other budgets. In addition, this division is responsible for the completion and submission of company tax returns.
The financial division can provide important information on a company’s performance. The financial manager sets the cost-standards for the company and regularly checks the actual performance of the company against these standards. As computers are increasingly used to record and organise data, many financial managers are spending more time developing strategies and implementing the long-term goals of their organisation.
The duties of financial managers vary with the level of their seniority. For example, the top financial executives of an organisation oversee all financial and accounting functions and formulate and administer the organisation’s overall financial plans and policies. In small firms, financial managers usually handle all the financial management functions, while in large firms, they direct these activities through other financial managers, each heading up different financial sections, which may include:
Financial control: This section is responsible for the preparation of financial reports that summarise and forecast the organisation’s financial position, such as income statements, balance sheets, and analysis of future earnings or expenses; also for the preparation of special reports required by regulatory authorities. This section may also oversee the accounting, audit, and budget departments.
Treasurer: This section directs and implements the organisation’s financial goals, objectives and budgets. They oversee the investment of funds and manage associated risks, supervise cash management activities, execute capital-raising strategies to support a firm’s expansion, and deal with mergers and acquisitions.
Cash flow: Here the flow of cash receipts and disbursements are monitored and controlled to meet the business and investment needs of the firm. For example, cash flow projections are needed to determine whether loans must be obtained to meet cash requirements or whether surplus cash should be invested in interest-bearing instruments.
Risk and insurance: These managers oversee programmes to minimise risks and losses that may arise from the financial transactions and business operations undertaken by the institution. They also manage the organisation’s insurance budget.
Credit managers:They oversee the firm’s issuance of credit. They establish credit rating criteria, determine credit ceilings, and monitor the collection of past overdue accounts. Managers specialising in international finance develop financial and accounting systems for the banking transactions of multinational organisations.
Investment managers carry out functions closely related to those of financial managers and these positions are often combined. Investment managers determine the best means of investing material and financial resources. They consider the risk of the use of various investment media such as shares, property, deposits, jewellery, diamonds, gold coins, paintings and international currencies.
Computers play an important role in the work of financial and investment managers. These managers have a good deal of administrative work, which includes work with properties, shares, transfers and debentures. Larger firms employ company secretaries and/or transfer secretaries to do the administrative work, but in smaller firms the financial and investment manager is also responsible for this. They may also be required to make calculations, prepare reports, attend meetings, write letters, and accumulate and file records.
Degree: A BCom degree in any of the following fields will provide the necessary training: Accountancy, Business Management, Business Finance, Cost and Management Accountancy, Economics, Financial Management, Investment Management and Management Accountancy. Prospective students should consult the calendars of the various universities to determine which of these BCom degrees are offered at the university of their choice.
Diploma: The N.Dip. Cost and Management Accounting is offered at CPUT, CUT, VUT, NMMU, UNISA, and the N.Dip. Administrative Management at UNISA. Financial Management at most TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges.
The SA Institute of Management offers 1, 2 and 3-year diploma courses. These are offered by accredited private colleges nation-wide. After the first basic course, students can follow specialised training in Management (for example Financial Management or Human Resources Management). Prospective students have to register at the Institute.
Institute of Life and Pension Advisors (ILPA) ILPA offers an advanced course in Investment Management. This is especially suited for persons who want to act as insurance brokers and offers good opportunities for self-employment.
Larger companies will only appoint chartered accountants in their top financial positions. See Chartered Accountant for the training requirements.
The Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA)
Riviera Road Office Park (Block C)
6 – 10 Riviera Road
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: (011) 551-4000
SA Institute of Management
10th Floor Minerals Council SA
71 Marshall Street
Johannesburg CBD 2001
Tel. (011) 078-8716/7
South African Institute of Chartered Accountants
17 Fricker Place
Tel: 0861 072 422
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants
4th floor, 54 Melrose Boulevard
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: (011) 788-8723