To win in today’s marketplace, Financial Managers need to really embrace ‘people as your biggest asset’!

Hi5 Industry Thought Leader Interview: Tersia, Financial Manager, Retail & Financial Services

Tersia, tell us what you do & what you enjoy about it?

I’m a Financial Manager in the Financial Services sector. My work involves all the sorts of things you’d expect of a Financial Manager in the private sector. Some of the brands I’ve worked for include: Momentum Asset Management, MaraisFin, BM Bore, and Riga Boutique. I’m very results-driven and I like getting to the end-point of my tasks and projects — it nice to look back and see what I’ve accomplished. My role requires me to be very analytic in my approach to work, so I like to have all the information and data in front of me before I do make a decision on the way forward. Whatever I set out to do in my career and work I accomplish, even when it’s for projects for work I haven’t done before as I like a new challenge. Perhaps contrary to what people usually think about people in the financial profession, I really enjoy working with people — I find people very interesting and they make my work more interesting too. Also, my career offers me stability, security and it allows me to add value to my company, all of which I like.

Do you think Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is important & what do you do for your own CPD?

I do think it’s very important. Not only is it important, but also in my profession it’s a requirement! For example, I’m registered with SAICA and have continuous learning and work-experience requirements from them to stay qualified. In my career, I started out as in an entry-level job in the financial services sector and it’s through my CPD (and hard work) that I’ve worked my way to becoming a Financial Manager. Also, I think it’s important to have a life outside of work and have some fun, like walking and mountain-biking, as your health is the most important thing in life and good health matters for you to be successful in your work and career too.

How does HR & human capital come into a company’s financial ‘equation’?

There’s a common phrase: ‘People are you’re biggest asset!’ This does have an affect on how we need to approach financial management! In my profession, the technical aspects of the work and qualifications are important, but more and more I think that the ‘people component’ of the job is becoming really important. This is a change from the traditional view of people as your ‘biggest cost’. Companies now really are viewing their people and their teams as their strongest assets for their competitive advantage, which means that in my role the ‘people component’ is becoming more of a focus — whether this is in how I interact with other people in the business (and in my team) or how I manage the company’s financials around the people in the business (and the investment in people we make). Also, another change on the people-side of business is that if subordinate employees are more qualified or knowledgeable than their managers, in some area of work or the business, then this is becoming more normal and acceptable than it used to be. Job titles are less important than they used to be, while competence is far more important a factor now. It’s all about what makes the best results for the business.

What makes for a talented employee?

A talented employee is someone who you can groom. I wouldn’t say a talented employee needs to know everything, as in any career (especially when starting out) there’s things you don’t know and experience that you don’t have. So, someone who is willing to ask questions and to learn-as-they-go (as well as the ability to then execute it) is definitley someone I’d look after if they were in my team or company. I think that a person needs to be a good fit for your team. If they aren’t then it doesn’t matter how brilliant their qualifications or job interview was! But sometimes it’s hard to tell who’ll be talented until they’re already working for you, so sometimes you just have to give some people a chance and see how it turns out…

What makes for a good manager?

A good manager is somebody who helps recognise and support a talented employee, as just described. And it’s also someone who can work hard, get things done and has a passion for what they do. And someone who is loyal. Loyalty is important, I think.

What factors help with employee engagement in the workplace?

I think it’s important to encourage your employees to always improve themselves. Encourage them to better themselves through doing a course or a degree or something like this. I think it benefits them and it will benefit the company too. But it can’t just be about book-knowledge. It must include applied knowledge and experience as well. I think talented people respond well to this sort of encouragement and growth. I certainly try to live by this approach to managing my people.

What are the biggest trends & changes you’re seeing in the workplace in your sector?

There’s a lot of new systems and techology! And this new technology does take some adjustement to, but I can see how it makes life easier and our work more effective. Everything is integrated now: the cellphone, computers, media. This does help in work, as it makes things easier and means you can work from anywhere now. But the other big change I see is in the people, especially the difference between the different generations in the workplace now. I think the younger generations do seem to ‘job-hop’ more, while the older generation…we tend to be more focussed on accountability and taking ownership. I don’t see that sense of ownership and accountability as much in the younger generation of employees. Saying that, I think that the younger generations have strengths that we in the older generation don’t have so much, like they are probably more open to change — especially where change makes life easier for themselves and the work. And they’re probably more up to date when it comes to technical things and changes in IT and technology.

Thanks for sharing, Tersia!

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