Strategy & Operations » Governance » Financial Director – May 2014

‘The Handover’ isn’t a really spurious attempt by Hollywood to revitalise ‘The Hangover’ series of sore head-related films. Of course, an FD involved in a handover period may, ironically, have a proverbial or real headache to contend with (read our feature here).

Can you maintain your professionalism, when you’re tempted to go de-mob and focus on your new job? How much does the new incumbent expect of you – do they actually want you to disappear? How much does your board want you involved? Have you managed the belts and braces so that – if any problems are subsequently found – they won’t attach themselves to your CV?

While not a pure ‘handover’ story as such, the tale of Ric Piper is one to consider. A strong career as finance chief at WS Atkins saw him set to join Trinity Mirror as its FD. But WS Atkins issued a profits warning just hours before its AGM. Piper stood down at the AGM as expected and was replaced by long-standing FD-in-waiting Stephen Billingham. A later discussion between Piper and then Trinity Mirror chairman Philip Graff saw the decision made ‘by mutual consent’ that Piper would not be taking the media sector role.

Admirably, and without a full-time job, Piper dusted himself down and moved on. He has held many senior non-exec and chairman roles in the 11 years that have passed since the incident.

But it shows that risk management, transparency, financial rigour and diplomacy – all key tools in an FD’s armoury – are just as significant in managing your career.

Kevin Reed, editor, Financial Director

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