“Accountants fill a vast array of posts across central government departments,” says Christos Malakouna, director in Deloitte’s public sector finance team. “Public sector CFOs are now expected to be at the heart of decision-making. The finance teams supporting them require diverse skills and capabilities, building on technical skills, but fundamentally ensuring they have wider stakeholder, influencing and commercial skills.
“Roles range from finance business partners – with the stakeholder management and influencing skills to work with programmes and operational areas to support decision making, costing and strategic financial planning – to others focusing directly on supporting complex programmes, ensuring there is clarity of understanding of the phasing of costs and benefits, with good forecasting practices in place.
“There are also a range of roles to support finance processes, with the continued development of shared services and centres of excellence. In the current environment, those with capabilities around complex contract management and payment mechanisms, financial reporting and budgeting treatment of complex projects are in a great position to add value in a range of organisations. Post holders can have excellent exposure to ministers and their advisers, particularly in financial planning and programming.
“Roles are often well paid with trainee salaries of up to £25,000 a year, rising upon qualification to something in the region of £27,000 to £45,000. Senior level post holders can earn in the region of £80,000 a year. A finance background is generally a good grounding for progression within government – a number of former FDs and CFOs have gone on to take Permanent Secretary roles at some of the larger departments.”