Finance is a very, very broad field. There are so many different specialisations out there in the Finance ecosystem. As a result, when writing CVs for those in the Finance industry, we must be particularly precise and accurate. We must be able to effectively isolate and present the individual’s specific area of expertise, and how that area can contribute to a prospective employer. If an asset management firm was looking for an analyst, a bank loans officer would not be the best fit, but both roles come under the broad banner of ‘finance’. If your CV doesn’t demonstrate a good fit for the role, chances are it’ll be discarded. Finance is a rather ‘hot’ industry nowadays – there are many many applicants for every single position, and it’s therefore very important to demonstrate that (i) you have the right skillset and competencies for the job and that (ii) you can contribute effectively to the company if you should be hired. Your CV must thus be well positioned to properly sell your profile.
Here’s a sample finance related CV I recently worked on. This client was primarily an accountant by training, but she gained a lot of compliance-related experience through her years of experience and wanted to apply for a senior finance manager role. It was a particularly interesting CV to write – there were so many good tidbits of information for me to sift through!
[The Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Accountant (CA) certifications are highly respected. The awarding authorities allow charter holders to use these postnominals. We do so here to highlight her extensive qualifications. Depending on your industry; check to see if you have any similar certifications. Adding postnominals is optional, but is a good bonus to have.]
Senior Finance Manager | Financial Accounting Expert | Compliance Specialist
[Because there are so many different sub-specialties in Finance, it’s a good idea to list your area of specialization first]
Tel.: +852 XXXX XXXX | Email: email@example.com | Nationality: Chinese | http://linkedin.sg/sallyyap
[Be sure to include your LinkedIn profile! Networking is particularly important in the Finance industry and you should not neglect your online presence. LinkedIn is a powerful tool in almost every industry today.]
- Senior Finance Manager with 12 years of experience leading financial operations at renowned global INCs, including Facebook & Twitter. Led end-to-end compliance for Twitter’s IPO in 2013 (NASDAQ: TWTR). [This opening is particularly memorable due to its extremely high-profile achievement. I usually list achievements at the end of the exec summary, but it is beneficial to showcase very high-key points early on, to create a lasting impression. This is her ‘personal brand’ —the HR officers discussing this CV are likely to use it to refer to her (e.g. ‘let’s call the Twitter IPO lady in for an interview’). If you have any major projects or numbers that demonstrate your ability/skillsets, include them in the first point.]
- Wide-reaching domain experience across multiple Finance-related fields, specializing particularly in FP&A and risk modelling. Known for producing detailed financial planning & risk models as part of advisory duties to C-level management, providing insights into business health to support strategic and growth planning operations. [Finance is a very broad field. As such, it’s important to highlight the areas you specialize in to distinguish yourself and reassure the employer that you hate the theoretical knowledge to support their operations. If the employer is an asset manager looking for an analyst, a bank loan officer is unlikely to fit the bill.]
- Extensive theoretical and practical knowledge of major global accounting and regulatory standards, including IAS, US GAAP, SEC, and IFRS, as well as compliance and reporting procedures for NASDAQ entities. [After multiple financial scandals, ‘compliance’ and ‘regulation’ are highly sought-after buzzwords— they are important considerations for almost every financial firm out there. A strong backing in such areas is thus an added advantage.]
|Financial Planning||Financial Budgeting||Internal Controls|
|Forecasting||Accounts Management||Accounts Payable|
|Accounts Receivable||Financial Reporting||Change Management|
[Ensure the keywords here mirror those used in the job ad. The first round of telling is often done by a software scanner. This section helps to pad the CV with key finance management phrases necessary to get past those scanners. This is more likely the case for major MNCs and larger frets due to the sheer volume of applications; smaller SMEs or boutique firms are less likely to use them.]
- Lead team of 16 staff to oversee full spectrum of finance functions with APAC revenues in excess of 1 billion USD, collaborating directly with Group CFO on full spectrum of financial matters relating to business strategy, performance management, budgeting, forecasting, cash management and sales analysis. [The first point of every job description should capture and summaries your entire job, as well as demonstrate your value-add. Here, we highlighted her finance domain expertise, and the fact that she reports directly to the CFO. At such a high-profile firm, this means that she is also in a position of responsibility. Finally, we also bring up the fact that she handled >1 bn worth of revenue, to demonstrate that she is able to drive financial operations at the highest level involving extremely large sums.]
- Coordinate with internal teams such as Sales & Accounts, HR. Facilities and Legal to accurately model past and future financial performance.
- Drive process improvements in automation of financial reporting through close collaboration with up-stream process owners.
- Build and present detailed financial models to drive investment decisions for senior management.[This line and the following lines describe other academic functions you do in the school]
- Played key role in improving accounting process during monthly dosing; streamlined process enabled quicker processing of accounts and improved productivity resulting in reduction in monthly closing from 3 days to 1 day. [Achievements should ideally be related to her expertise and domain (Finance). This is a good example of how she leveraged her accounting knowledge in improving efficiency— the perspective employer will want to know how she can add value to his company if he should hire her.]
- Presided over due diligence on key acquisition target; audited financial statements and performed deep analysis into customer base, geographies, acquisition, and retention rates. CFO utilized findings as part of M&A business plan for board of directors and shareholders, resulting in successful M&A deal valued at >USD20M. [At first glance, this might look like a regular job description. However, there’s a very small result tagged to it — her actions resulted in them securing a lucrative deal. Differentiate our regular duties from exceptional achievements by showcasing the value it has brought in.]
- Single-handedly identified fundamental accounting structural flaw resulting in cost avoidance of USD 10M; led change in Excel toolkits and Hyperion mapping resulting in stronger controls and improved accounting practices. [Similar to the first point, we show how her finance expertise has led to value being created for her company. Value can come in many shapes and sizes — in this case, she managed to avoid incurring costs because she realized something was wrong. This would also interest a potential employer— cost savings mean an improved bottom line. We also name-drop a few key software suites used in Accounting and Finance to demonstrate her familiarity with them. This wasn’t the main intention, but adds value to the CV.]
FINANCE ANALYST, FP&A Jan 2012 – Feb 2014
TWITTER, SAN FRANCISCO
- Managed overall P&L of >USD200M for 2 engineering teams based in Twitter HQ in the USA. [Since this role is older, we don’t place as much emphasis on the details. Still we shouldn’t neglect it – we inserted some nice stats to showcase the significance and seniority level of her responsibilities here.]
- Analyzed financial payback and strategic fit of projects and provided independent and objective assessment for further evaluation.
- Produced management reports and ad hoc analysis for senior management to support strategic decision making. [Again, we choose duties which are similar and/or transferable to the job ad she has in mind. If you don’t have a particular job ad that you are targeting, you can choose to include a wider variety of responsibilities, but be sure to keep the CV’s overall length in mind. Don’t exceed 2.5-3 pages, and cap it at –6 points per role. If the CV is too long, the employer won’t want to read it.]
- Key member of finance team tasked to support Twitter’s IPO in 2013. [Because this is such a major project, we chose to break down her various contributions and details. This allows us to better demonstrate how she managed to successfully complete this particularly outstanding project. Also, this may look like part of the job descriptions, but it is a one-off project that is very, very major (a company can only IPO once), and as such comes under the Achievements section.]
- Overhauled business processes to shorten finance reporting times in order to comply with quarterly reporting requirements.
- Liaised with external vendors to customize SAP FICO modules to accurately report cost of employee stock options in US GAAP financial statement reports.
- Studied and complied with all FTC and SEC public company reporting requirements. Received no audit failures or penalties from authorities.
[With the significant projects approach, there isn’t as great a need to have metrics or stats present in each point, as the nature of the project already speaks for itself.]
HP, Hong Kong
- Supported performance management and reporting for APAC business unit with annual revenues in excess of 20 million USD. [This role is really long ago: Still, it’s fairly relevant, so we shouldn’t neglect it. We include some details about her role and its significance. For older roles, you can get away with 1-2 points of description.]
- Oversaw successful integration of acquisitions in Hong Kong, Australia & Japan; mapped existing firm business processes, identified gaps between acquired company and parent company, installed corrective controls, and made recommendations on organization right sizing due to redundancy. [While metrics and statistics are very important in contextualizing an achievement (we need to show just how significant it is), sometimes those just aren’t available. They could be corlfidentia4 or difficult to measure, or perhaps you simply forgot because it’s so far in the past. No worries — it’s just a bonus.]
KPMG, Hong Kong
- Drove the audit of clients across the healthcare and software industries. [KPMG is a well-respected firm. However, the job is over 10 years old not really related to either her current position or her target role, and is also an entry-level position. We could have skimmed over this, but since there’s only one left we chose to include it. If you have a list of old roles, you can choose to fist them as Previous Professional Experience’ instead.]
EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS
- Certified Chartered Accountant (CA®) • Association of Certified Chartered Accountants (ACCA) • Hong Kong • 2010
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) • CFA Institute • Hong Kong • 2012 [The CFA and CA certifications are both well respected in the finance and accounting industries. Include such certifications if you have them. You can also include in-progress certs that you are currently taking, as long as you are clear that you have yet to receive the actual certificate itself. The ad of wanting to take the certification is already valuable in its own right.]
- Bachelor of Science (Hons) • Accountancy • Hong Kong University • 2007
[The original CV included JC and 0 Lath, but those are no longer relevant. Include only tertiary education and above your highest qualification attained, whichever is applicable.]
[These software suites and databases are widely used within the accounting and finance industries. They are thus beneficial to include, to show that you have the knowledge and can use them in jour new role.]
- Nationality: Chinese
- Languages: Fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin (Oral and Written). Basic command of French. [If you are fluent in multiple languages, be sure to include that here. It’s always a nice bonus to have. If you have official certifications e.g. JLPT, you can include those too.]
- Availability: 2 months’ notice [Availability can differ – you can remove this if you are unsure]
References available upon request
[There’s no need to list your references; if HR is interested in you they will ask you for them.]
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About the Finance Manager Role
A senior finance manager role may come across as routine and process driven, particularly with regards to month end and statutory reporting. However, the truth is, it can also be challenging and interesting!
Reporting is just a small part of the role, and a financial controller can be responsible for treasury, tax, financial planning and growing of commercial business partnerships, just to name a few.
Depending on your specialisation, your role will likely differ.
Some Key Pointers Recruiters Look For in Finance Manager Resumes:
- Your experience in full set of accounts
- Your ability to support senior management in making business growth decisions
- Your familiarity with various accounting software, programs, and tools, such as SAP, Hyperion, and Oracle.
You will also have to be technically astute with sound knowledge of financial fundamentals. Knowledge of general ledger, budgeting, forecasting, accounting standards and compliance regulations are essential, and you will have to demonstrate the ability to see not only the micro, but also macro side of things.
Again, depending on your subspeciality, this will change. There’s no need to follow this exact format on your CV. Instead, play to your strengths, and identify the areas which your dream job requires. Feel free to drop me an email if you’re unsure – my email address is above. I read every email that comes through to my inbox – never fear!
Common Errors (which are very often dealbreakers – avoid!)
Here are a few common mistakes I see clients making in their CVs:
Being too general – Using one CV for all applications.
It’s very common to want to save your efforts, and use 1 single CV for every application. This is a critical mistake to make – every employer is looking for a different set of skills, and your CV must be written to account for this. Applying for a position in accounting is very different from applying for one in compliance, and your CV must correspondingly be adapted to fit the different requirements. I’m not saying that you need to completely rewrite your CV every single time. That’s just inefficient. Instead, look at the areas which can be transferred, and just tweak the areas which are different. For instance, in our earlier example, both accountants and compliance officers need to be aware of the major accounting standards and regulatory requirements e.g. IFRS, SOX, and there’s no need to change job descriptions which include either or both of these aspects.
On the other hand, the accounting CV might talk more about the client’s past experience dealing with accounts receivable/payable, controlling finances, reviewing budgets, etc. while the compliance officer’s CV could deal more with policymaking, liaising with the regulators/authorities, conducing internal audits, etc. The idea is to include more skillsets relevant to your targeted ad in your CV.
Not being clear about their specialisations
I’m not generalising, but one of the things I notice among many finance manager CVs I’ve read is how strong their background in budget management and finance controlling is, but how they fail to emphasise these on their resumes.
Just because you are good in numbers (or accounting) doesn’t mean you can do away with a well-presented finance manager resume. Remember, you are trying to “sell” yourself and your qualifications. Thus, you need to have a resume that stands out.
In fact, this one is a rather frustrating one to see. There are many instances where I’ve spoken to brilliant minds who cannot get an interview, but not for lack of skill. The simple reason is that their CV just doesn’t demonstrate that they fit what the employer is looking for. What a waste!
In your CV, be sure to identify and highlight your specialisation. Are you an analyst? Accountant? Financial controller? Be sure to check what the job ad is looking for and explicitly state your area of expertise on your CV. Even if you are from a different sub-sector, you can still highlight transferable skillsets on your CV. Be explicit about this. Clearly state that you are an analyst / accountant / compliance expert etc. in your CV, right at the beginning. A lot of companies (especially larger MNCs and global firms) use ATS, an automated CV scanner, to filter CVs. If you’re missing keywords, chances are that your CV won’t even reach the desk of a human. The Key Skills section, for instance, includes all the keywords resume scanning softwares often use.
Not including achievements when writing your CV
Finance is a very easy sector to showcase your value add in, as a lot of the work done is quantifiable by metrics. An auditor may choose to highlight the project value of audits that they’ve led; an analyst may point to the returns they’ve generated that year; an accountant can talk about the value of the accounts they control, the efficiency they’ve generated, or the revenues they preside over. Yet, many people don’t include achievements on their CVs, perhaps due to us Chinese being more modest in general.
This is one of the most important parts of your CV! It’s your chance to demonstrate where you’ve added value in the past, and thus how you can contribute to your future firm if hired. Don’t be shy. List your significant projects, achievements, etc. on your CV, and be sure to contextualise and quantify them with metrics and statistics where possible (it’s always more impressive to be able to see just how much value was created).
Your achievements section is critical to differentiating your application from that of your peers. Include projects which you have led and their resulting tangible business benefits. These benefits can be in the form of:
- Cost savings to the firm
- Improved business analytic / transparency leading to better business insights
- Enhanced internal controls
- Streamlined accounting processes resulting in higher productivity
- Due Diligence for M&A activity
- New business arm leading to higher revenues / profits
Always tie back your projects to business benefits. This is what the hiring manager and employer want to see on your CV. Ultimately, they want to know you can bring great value to their organisation.
However, be careful of confidentiality clauses. If a project is confidential, be careful when using it on your CV. You can use percentages, or say things like “multi-million dollar project” instead of giving the exact dollar figure. Whatever you do, don’t break NDAs or confidentiality clauses, be it on your CV or in person – if you break it for one employer, future companies may wonder if you’ll keep their secrets if/when you decide to move on. Being general is okay; explicitly stating the number or project isn’t. Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure – the interviewer will understand (and likely appreciate it too!)
Not Listing Professional Associations and Memberships
Like many industries, finance has many certification-awarding bodies and official associations. Be sure to include your professional affiliations, memberships, and certifications in your CV, especially if it’s well-respected. It’s a huge advantage to have. Yet, I still see a lot of people forgetting to include them, not wanting to include them, or simply not being aware that they are, in fact, members!
Some common qualifications that are very well respected (and hence should absolutely go on your CV if possible) that I’ve seen include, in no particular order:
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Chartered Accountant (CA) (or Certified Public Accountant (CPA) depending on where you’re from)
- Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM)
- Financial Risk Manager (FRM)
- Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA)
- Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA)
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
This is by no means an exhaustive list – there are many certifications and courses out there which add value to your CV.
Even if you haven’t actually gotten the certificate yet, you can include it on your CV. Just be sure to state that it’s ‘In Progress’ or similar. This is particularly the case for certifications which have multiple levels – CFA is a good example (there are 3 levels you must go through before becoming an official charterholder entitled to use the CFA designation). You can, for example, put ‘CFA Level I (June 2018)’ or ‘CFA Level II Candidate (Expected completion: July 2019)’ etc. This shows that you’re interested in the industry, and committed to self-improvement, both of which are beneficial traits to highlight on your CV.
Finance Management Job Opportunities
- Join LinkedIn groups or follow companies you wish to work for to keep abreast with new job openings.
- Alternatively, you can reach out to these headhunters in Hong Kong to learn about any vacancies they may be trying to fill out.
Job Hunting Tips from our Resident Headhunter
- Create a winning cover letter and send it along your resume. The cover letter will serve as an introduction about yourself and is a great venue to answer the question “Why should we hire you?”
- Be active on social media, particularly on LinkedIn. Make sure to create a strong online profile that represents you and you professional experiences. Here’s our comprehensive guide on writing a great LinkedIn profile.
- Before you start sending out applications, get a free CV Feedback Session with our team.
More Useful Links
If you found this article useful, you might also like:
- How to Write a Winning Resume: Your Ultimate CV Guide
- How to Write a Cover Letter: Your Ultimate Cover Letter Guide
- How to Use LinkedIn to Find a Job: Your Ultimate LinkedIn Guide
- List of Headhunters in Hong Kong
- Cover Letter Samples, Templates & Tips
- Downloadable Free Resume Templates
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