What does a finance project manager do?

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“Planning is the open road to your destination. If you don’t know where you are going, how can you expect to get there?” 

~Basil S. Walsh, former banking director at the Bank of Philadelphia and Trust Company and Bankers Trust Company

Every project manager deals with financials on some level: planning the project budget is the project manager’s responsibility, after all. But financial project managers live and breathe it. 

Let’s take a deep dive into exactly what finance project managers do and the skills they need to succeed.

What are the key responsibilities of a finance project manager? 

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A finance project manager is someone who plans, organizes, schedules, oversees, problem-solves, and otherwise shepherds finance-related projects from initial conception through project completion.

Key responsibilities include initiating a project, usually with a project charter and/or a statement of work, then assembling a team, building a project schedule, and overseeing the team as they work through that schedule and complete the project. 

Finance project managers serve in companies within the finance industry, as well as in larger (non-finance) organizations that have significant finance-related projects, such as those involving revenue, expenses, cashflow, reporting, or investments.

Finance project manager responsibilities typically include at least these areas:

Planning and budgeting

No matter the type of project, just about every project manager is responsible for planning out the project and building (or adhering to) a project budget.

Project planning involves defining the project scope, assembling a project team, and building out a complete project schedule. Stakeholders and project team members are informed, and those most impacted are the team members who will soon be doing the work.

Project budgeting is key forprofitable resource management and involves estimating the cost of the project (or defining the project scope in relation to an externally-defined budget). It takes place during the project planning phase and typically involves stakeholders, any representatives from the finance team (this may just be you, though), and any project team members with purchasing authority.

Reporting and analysis

Every project manager needs a certain level of financial analysis skill, but finance project managers are expected to have much stronger abilities here. The projects, amounts of money involved, and financial complexity are all much greater. 

For example, a finance project manager might be responsible for identifying and implementing process improvements at an enterprise level for a division with hundreds of millions in revenue. The processes necessary to achieve that kind of revenue (and the financial analysis required to make sense of those processes) go far beyond what an entry-level PM would be able to handle.

It’s the financial project manager’s job to understand it all, derive observations from the project and financial data, and report those observations to decision-makers and stakeholders.

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Risk management

The kinds of risks involved tend to be different (or larger in scale) than those in other types of project work. Miss a deadline in building construction, and there are ramifications — but the world keeps spinning. Same with software that doesn’t quite deliver on expectations or takes too long in development.

Financial projects, on the other hand, literally can’t afford to fail. The finance project manager must identify all possible risks, predict their likelihood, and form mitigation plans for each.

Stakeholder communication

Finance project managers are responsible for most, if not all, stakeholder communication. Yourproject stakeholders are those who will be affected by, or who will affect, the project. Depending on the kind of project you’re managing, stakeholders could include:

  • Department heads of departments that will feel the effects of your project

  • Executives who are responsible for allocating resources and budget

  • Customers or clients who will be affected by the project

  • Department heads or senior employees who will be executing the project

Any person or group with a vested interest in the project who can influence or be influenced by the project could be a project stakeholder.

The project manager is responsible for managing these stakeholders by keeping them informed. This takes place throughout the project and helps to manage expectations.

Important skills a finance project manager should have

The broader project management field is attractive to job-seekers. It’s in high demand (BLS projects 6% growth over 10 years, while others estimate a need for 25 million project managers with a median salary above $100k), pays well, and has a relatively low barrier to entry.

But, not every project manager is suited for every project management role. Some roles, including program managers (learn the difference between aprogram manager and a project manager) and finance project managers, have additional requirements. 

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Compared to general project management, financial project managers need to rely on specific skills more heavily to succeed. And to get hired, you might need a little more substance on your resume.

Educational requirements

Finance project managers typically need a bachelor’s degree in something related to business, finance, or both. Accounting, finance, economics, and business administration are all options here. 

An advanced degree usually isn’t required, but it may be helpful. A certification in the field, such as the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, is also beneficial — though not necessarily required.

The truth is, there is no defined standard here; each organization is free to set its own expectations and requirements.

Additionally, most organizations hiring for finance project management will look for several years of experience in finance, project management, or both. 

In other words, you aren’t likely to encounter a lot of entry-level jobs in this space. It’s typically a step up (or a lateral or “diagonal” move) on the career ladder.

Financial acumen

Because the projects you’ll be managing will be complex and will involve complex financials, you’ll need a higher-than-average level of financial acumen if you want to be asuccessful project manager

Some firms look for people with experience as financial analysts or accountants, though again the specific background and skills companies are looking for varies.

Analytical skills

These are important skills for most types of project managers, but for finance project managers, we’re talking a whole different level of analytical skills. You won’t just be looking at tasks and project schedules, trying to put those pieces together. You’ll be analyzing financial complexities before you can understand what the tasks are and how they fit together.

Technological proficiency

You’ll also need to rely on a range of technologies and tools. While the list below is not exhaustive, you’ll need to have (or develop) a strong technological proficiency in each of these areas. 

Project management

Managing complex projects requires advanced solutions that allow cross-functional teams to collaborate well and enable project managers to implement automation wherever possible. Working with the right project management software tool accomplishes both and simultaneously keeps all your project data in one place. 

Take Teamwork.com, for example. Our project management suite helps you visualize, plan, and collaborate with ease. You’ll have an easier time communicating clearly with stakeholders thanks to visuals and templates, and you’ll be able to stay on top of who’s doing what and when. You’ll also be able to automate many routine project tasks.


There are many options for communicating in the modern workplace, enabling collaboration in all kinds of ways. Yet, teams still have communication challenges. 

It could be that the difficulty here lies in how we’re communicating. The solution isn’t to add yet another communication channel for its own sake. Instead, you need a strategy that informs which communication channels to use for which purposes.

Teamwork Chat is a dedicated app for seamless collaboration that’s deeply integrated with the full Teamwork.com platform. Chat based on projects, create team video chats, and more — all tied to the context of your project data.

Financial management

We’ve evolved from the days of the abacus or even the desktop calculator. Today’s financial professionals use advanced software tools to assist in financial management. These tools aren’t always the most user-friendly, but mastering them is vital for success.

Teamwork.com won’t replace all your financial management tools, but the budgeting and billing tools included are highly competent. Combined with the project management and task management capabilities, the finance tools enable intuitive and accurate project budgeting and forecasting.


We strongly caution against project managing via spreadsheet, but the trusty spreadsheet still has its uses. Even though it may be decades old, Microsoft Excel is still a relevant and vital skill in finance and financial analysis. 

Risk management

Identifying and managing project risk is equal parts art and science, but in financial projects, it’s also math. 

Lots and lots of math.

That’s OK, though — if you’ve made it this far, you’re not afraid of a little advanced mathematics.

Risk management is both a common activity and an essential skill because it takes imagination and creativity to see the future and envision any and all possible points of failure. If you can identify a risk, you can build a defense against it and a mitigation strategy if it occurs. 

But it’s those risks no one sees coming that scare businesses the most. 

If you can perfect the skill of seeing them better than others, you’re well on your way to success in this field.

Strategic planning

Aligning a project’s goals with the organization's is always important, but again, there’s a higher level of intensity or importance with financial projects. 

With smaller projects, a little misalignment might mean a delayed project; a missing feature; a single stakeholder who doesn’t get what they want. 

But with finance projects, a misalignment could deeply wound an organization, hitting the balance sheet, the share price, or even ongoing liquidity.

So for this reason, the finance project manager must be a master of strategic planning, equipped with the ability to ensure the project tightly aligns with the organization’s financial objectives.

Common challenges in financial project management 

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While the nature of the role can vary quite a bit, certain challenges commonly pop up in financial project management. Here are a few of them.

Distilling complexity

Finance project managers work with complex projects often involving advanced financial modeling. One of the challenges every finance project manager faces is distilling these complex elements into simpler language that communicates clearly to non-specialists (such as those stakeholders who don’t live and breathe finance).

The project manager has the thankless job of taking all that complexity and distilling it down so that decision-makers can understand the ramifications of the decision they’re making.

One way to help do this is to use project management software to create clear, compelling visuals. Financial reporting on project expenditures or projected project impacts is one thing with words alone; it’s another with high-impact visuals illustrating the metrics of project success.

Communication gaps

Because the projects are complex and the effects wide-reaching, it’s easy for communication gaps to occur: between senior management and the cross-functional team doing the work; between various groups of stakeholders; or even over what the finance project manager job actually entails.

That’s why this career path requires excellent communication skills. Part of the job description is identifying these communication gaps and then bridging them before deliverables are affected, milestones slip, or financial performance takes a hit.

Teamwork.com provides a greater level of visibility into project status, displaying information in easy-to-understand visuals. Using Teamwork.com, you can allow people to stay informed at every point of the project, even if they aren’t the ones responsible for a given task.

Set your finance project managers up for success with Teamwork.com

Becoming a successful financial project manager is a journey that requires mastering at least two disciplines and developing numerous traits and abilities.

Landing the job is one thing, though. Maintaining success over time (including with multiple overlapping projects) is another.

Finance project managers need the right set of tools, including a project management suite like Teamwork.com.

Teamwork.com gives you greater visibility into project data, schedules, and status. With rich visuals and a deep library of templates, you’ll create a shared visual language that helps specialists and non-specialists alike understand exactly what’s happening in the project and exactly what they need to do next.

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