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Looking for the South’s Finance Director of the Year

The inaugural Central South Mid-Market FD of the Year award, launched last year by CMA Recruitment Group and BDO LLP, was a resounding success; well received by the business and accounting community.

Aimed at mid-market companies with turnovers between £10m and £300m, top-performing finance directors in the region were nominated either by their managing directors or professional advisers, focusing on areas such as leadership and management skills, contribution to the performance and growth of the business and making a wider contribution to the sector or industry.

As the initiative was such a success, we’re pleased to announce that we’re running it again, and the search for The Central South Mid-Market FD of the Year is already underway.

How the FD role has changed

The meetings we had with FDs as part of the judging process provided firm evidence of how the role of the FD has evolved in recent times; not solely focused on compliance, but with a greater emphasis on commerciality and being a better partner to the business.

Malcolm Thixton, lead partner of BDO Southampton commented: “Just how central a strong FD is to their organisation, from both a strategic and operational perspective, was extremely apparent and a message repeatedly heard”.

The key themes we discovered were:


The need for real time data and greater analytics and insights is business critical and companies are clearly tapping into the logical mind of their FD to play a central role in system changes and implementations. The ‘Reluctant IT Director’ is often a term associated with an SME FD but the top FDs are not reluctant at all, they understand the need for greater automation which in turn allows more time for meaningful business insight. With the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and the thirst for big data, the most successful FDs will undoubtedly continue to embrace AI and use this to the advantage of their organisations.


Within the finalists’ 10 businesses, there were three major re-financing projects and a significant exit with a lengthy due diligence process - and you’d expect the FD to be front of house for these activities. But it was the new initiatives: the new product launches, the expansion into new territories (often international), that the top-performing FDs were able to demonstrate that they played a central role throughout these processes, from research stage through to full implementation and evaluation.


Increasing profile, from both an internal and external perspective was a recurring theme. From an internal perspective, this was all about positioning, often re-positioning the finance department within their organisation; as a business partner, a valued and fully utilised commercial ally for the business. And from an external perspective, a couple of the FDs had contributed strongly to winning sector-specific awards and in one case been nominated for their industry national governing body – all for the increase in profile and visibility of their organisation.

How to nominate for FD of the Year

Nominations to identify the top performing finance directors are open. To enter, visit the BDO Southampton website and complete the nomination form.

Interviews with the Top 10 will take place during February and March with three finalists revealed in early April. The Central South Mid Market FD of the Year will then announced at a Gala Dinner in May.

Further information and the criteria for the award will announced shortly but should you require any details in the meantime, contact either Richard Dibden at CMA Recruitment or Arbinder Chatwal at BDO. Good luck!