Four Ways to Identify a Bad Hire – Finance Director

By Human Capital Group
1st January 2021

Hiring the wrong person for your business can be awful, but hiring the wrong person at director level, can be simply catastrophic with long-lasting implications.


This is why the team here at Human Capital Group is so focused on providing the best possible executive recruitment support for the UK & US housebuilding, residential development and construction sectors.


As part of our work, we regularly liaise with industry experts to learn from their experience and apply this to our recruitment strategies.


We have recently taken this one step further and created a webinar series to look more deeply into the ‘cost of a bad hire’. Our Managing Director, Gerard Ball, has been speaking to a couple of industry specialists to really get into the bones of this issue – Andy Beasley and Darren Humphreys.

Andy Beasley spent upwards of 40 years in the property sector and was previously Regional Chairman of Bellway Central. Darren Humphreys was the CEO at SME Rectory Homes, Divisional MD at McCarthy & Stone and has spent extensive amount of time working at with big players CALA and David Wilson.

In our final installment of this series, we discussed the role of Finance Director and dug into the following questions:

  • What specific traits are we looking for in a Finance Director?
  • Can we look outside of the housebuilding industry to recruit for the role of Finance Director?
  • When we get the hire wrong, and we take on a bad FD, what’s the cost to the division?
  • What are the attributes we are looking for in the first 3/6 months to know we’ve got a good hire?

Read the interview below:


1. Is there anything specific we are looking for in a Finance Director?


Andy: “Hopefully they can add up!”

Darren: “A core part of the Finance Director role is understanding compliance, but an excellent candidate should have added value over and above just compliance.

“Great Finance Directors are able to look ahead to the future and start to come up with lead measures, looking at numbers and stats and find areas where improvements, opportunities and challenges may lie.”

Andy: “Too many Finance Directors are simply bean-counters and rarely come out of their office. They are often used by Head Office to keep the site up to date with compliance and to keep that side of things going.

“More importantly, on poorly performing sites, a good Finance Director will be able to look into the future, identify any upcoming issues and advise their managing directors accordingly. You want them to be able to think and advise rather than just do as the MD says.”


2. Can we look outside of the housebuilding industry to recruit for this role?


Darren: “Absolutely, but you have to make sure they’ve got the right background and good judgement to be able to grow into the role of a Finance Director in the housebuilding industry.

“The core skills are very transferable but just might take them a little longer to understand the knock-on effect of issues on site to the bottom line. This can certainly be taught though.”


3. When we get the hire wrong, and we take on a bad Finance Director, what’s the cost to the division?


Andy: “It’s an interesting question. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a Finance Director where’s there’s been too many issues before. Their monthly financial reports have to be done on a monthly basis which often keeps things on track, as does the general management infrastructure at a site – meaning that usually, it’s quite a steady role.”

Darren: “Often it’s more about the lost opportunities that can be caused by a bad FD, rather than actual dire consequences. It goes back to my original point – the good ones are the ones with that can add value.”


4. When we’ve got it really right, what are the attributes we are looking for in the first 3/6 months to know that we’ve made a good hire?


Andy: “I like the guys who are able to give opinions and do more than just do the counting. From my experience, bad things are when reports are late and littered with mistakes. These things are usually noticed more quickly by the Group FD/Accountant, than by the MD themselves.”

Daren: “I agree with Andy – it is really Group that controls the reporting side of things. The really good Finance Directors are the ones who put things on the agenda and aren’t afraid to bring things up and drive plans forward. Proactive thinking is the indication that you’ve got things right and can be a real weight off the Managing Director.”

Gerard: And that’s a wrap to a ‘Bad Hire’ series! While it’s proven to be really difficult to put a figure on what percentage each of these disciplines brings to the team, it is obvious that there are huge costs when you get the hires wrong. This is something that HCG can definitely help you to avoid.

“So, if you never want to make a bad hire ever again, make sure you contact me – [email protected] – to book a free strategy session where we will review your recruitment process, onboarding strategies and evaluate your succession plans.”

To discover how Human Capital Group can help prevent you from making a bad hire in the recruitment business, get in touch today.

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